San Antonio: RK Group to Add Pavilion to Red Berry Mansion
Feature Illustration (above): While the architectural rendering refers to this structures as their north elevations, that is incorrect. These are the south-facing elevations of the pavilion (in the foreground), and the Red Berry Mansion. Courtesy: CMP.
by Adolfo Pesquera
San Antonio (Bexar County) — With progress on its new headquarters well underway, The RK Group is now requesting permission to add a waterfront pavilion across the lake and on the back side of the Red Berry Mansion.
The Historic and Design Review Commission is expected to grant a Certificate of Appropriateness at its meeting today for a 4,700-square-foot, one-story pavilion with an open truss system–the architecture matching that of the iconic East Side mansion.
This is a 50-foot by 94-foot pavilion with dormers that allow light in from the roofline. The footprint is almost as large as the mansion itself, but its lower height gives it a subordinate perspective.
In advance of today’s vote, the HDRC’s Design Review Committee met with the architect, Daniel Long of Chesney Morales Partners Inc., on Aug. 27. They were generally in favor of the design, but requested additional sketches showing the view of the pavilion from the mansion.
North and South elevations of the pavilion. Courtesy: Chesney Morales Partners.
The 84.21-acre estate was created in the early 1950s by Virgil Edward “Red” Berry (1899-1969), a former state representative and San Antonio businessman best known for promoting gambling, legal or otherwise. About four decades after his death, the city acquired the property and ran it as an event center. Several years ago, the city contracted with NRP Group to build affordable housing on a northeast section if the estate, and the city contracted with RK Group for the rest.
RK Group began construction in the spring for a new headquarters on the opposite (south) side of a man-made lake from the mansion. See VBX April 1 report.
RK Group is also renovating the mansion and making improvements to the lake. The concept first presented to the HDRC did not include a permanent pavilion structure, but rather a tent system next to a waterfront boardwalk.
The overall site plan (above) for the Red Barry Estate. And the site plan (below) for the pavilion and mansion grounds. Courtesy: Chesney Morales Partners.
The lake improvements include raising it to a level that will allow boats to operate from a new dock next to the pavilion.
RK Group received final approval on its mansion restoration plans on April 3. The proposed pavilion is the last major change for the project.
The pavilion is to be located where Berry constructed a swimming pool. Long noted in his project narrative that the pool was not part of the original construction of the mansion, and it lies “off axis from the centerline of the mansion to the west.”
Daniel Long’s Comments:
“The existing location of the pool does, however, relate well to the lake. When the lake is full the waterline engages the southern edge of the pool. This close proximity was to be celebrated by the new placement of the proposed deck infilling the pool. The new deck would also provide anchor points for the removable event tent structures.
“During the construction and clearing of the site to remove the overgrown vegetation, the views of the mansion from the lake began to expand. It was during this time the ideas began to evolve as to whether a more prominent, permanent structure would be better suited for the overall site than the removable tent structures.
“We now have a proposed design of a covered “tent like” pavilion to be placed over the existing infilled pool.
“This new design would be harmonious with the existing mansion. Ledgestone masonry matching that of the mansion would be incorporated as well as painted stucco for the facade. Similar themed dormers would also be provided to break the overall mass of the roof but also tie to the existing roof elements of the mansion. The roofing would be a standing seam metal roof but replicate in color of the existing mansion tile roof. Details like similar profiled doors as well as the selection of exterior sconces would be matched to those elements of the mansion.
“Overall this new pavilion would provide the extended outdoor venue space needed for the event center and help unify the campus architecture and the overall relationship of the mansion to the lake. The placement of the pavilion, off axis of the mansion, still allows the views from the mansion to the lake.”
Adolfo Pesquera (Reporter/Editor) is a veteran news journalist. He has worked for Hearst Corp., American Lawyer Media, News Corp and Freedom Communications. His work has been published in newspapers and magazines across the USA. He is a journalism graduate of UT-RGV. He writes, edits and creates digital pages for VBX.