Feature Illustration (above): Concept illustration of the San Antonio Zoo parking garage, as it would be seen from the U.S. 281 expressway. Courtesy: City of San Antonio
by Adolfo Pesquera
San Antonio (Bexar County) — The Historic and Design Review Commission is expected to give its approval tomorrow on the design concept for a parking structure to serve the San Antonio Zoo.
The planned garage will also serve visitors to Alamo Stadium, Brackenridge Park and the Japanese Tea Gardens.
Alamo Architects, the architectural firm handling the project, is also requesting a Certificate of Appropriateness to begin site work–site clearing, site preparation, installation of underground utilities and concrete foundations.
In June, City Council voted to let the parking garage project proceed. The city owns the property where it will be constructed and it comes with an estimated cost of up to $10.8 million. It was described at that time as a three-story structure, however, Alamo Architects is designing a five-story structure that will accommodate 600 cars.
The garage will be located northeast of Alamo Stadium, across Tuleta Drive from the stadium. The zoo is directly east and across U.S. 281 from the future garage and the Japanese Tea Garden is directly south of the garage, also on the other side of U.S. 281. Visitors to the zoo or the Tea Garden will have access via a sidewalk along Tuleta that will extend under the highway.
The project site is wooded and trees will be removed, but most of the surrounding tree canopy will be untouched.
This is to be a precast concrete structure with precast concrete staircases. There will be some exposed wall, but it will also have green screens, landscaping, and prominent “San Antonio Zoo” signage made of perforated metal paneling.
Project architects and the general contractor, Guido Construction, met with the HDRC’s Design Review Committee in July to present and get input on the design. It was then that Cosmo Guido said he hoped to begin foundation work prior to the project receiving final approval of the facade design.
Options 1 and 2 for the south elevation of the parking garage. The south face will face Tuleta Drive, making it the most prominent side to passersby. Courtesy: City of San Antonio.
Commissioner Michael Guarino expressed concern about how the Tea Garden’s view shed would be affected, since portions of the garden reach heights that take in the horizon. Jeff Watson, an associated at Alamo Architects, said the garage base as at the height of the highway and it will rise 60 feet above the highway.
Commissioner Curtis Fish said the east facade may need additional screening.
In a September 14 project narrative to the HDRC, Alamo Architects noted that, “At this time, we are considering, and have included … two designs for the cladding of the structure. These two designs illustrate different levels of articulation of the building façades, that will be further developed as we continue to refine the construction budget. As the design progresses we’ll consolidate these schemes into a single submission for final approval from the HDRC.”
Option 1 has green screen elements along the south and east facades. Option 2 provides green screening beyond that of Option 1, and adds elements along the west elevation, perforated panels enclosing the stair towers, and commissioned artwork to enhance the south and east facades.
The east and west elevations. Image courtesy of City of San Antonio public records.