Reimagine the Alamo Unveils Proposed Master Plan Design
SAN ANTONIO - After nearly two years of intense work, the Alamo Master Plan Management Committee, which is comprised of representatives from the Texas General Land Office, the City of San Antonio, and the private Alamo Endowment, unveiled detailed design renderings of the proposed master plan for the Alamo Complex and surrounding area. The spectacular images depict a vision that restores reverence and dignity to one of the most historic battlefields in the United States while capturing the imagination of all ages and all cultures, for generations to come.
Working in close collaboration, the Committee and the Master Plan Team, led by Dr. George C. Skarmeas of Preservation Design Partnership, LLC, undertook the first ever systematic study of the history and the physical evolution of the Alamo site from the arrival of the Spanish missionaries in 1724 to the present time, and conducted archaeological research in the summer of 2016. The resulting bold and visionary ideas are based on evidence and the best principles and practices of heritage conservation planning and design.
"Today marks a major benchmark in the nearly two-year mission to restore a sense of dignity and decorum to our Shrine of Texas Liberty," Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush said. "The Reimagine the Alamo team has worked with countless stakeholders, gathering input from the public, state leaders, city officials, local business owners, experts in revitalizing historic landmarks, archeologists, historians, and those who love Texas' rich history, so that we can truly honor this noble site and build a museum worthy of its status. With the unveiling of these detailed renderings we enter a new phase - the mission to Reimagine the Alamo has become more tangible and the momentum continues to build."
The images of the proposed Master Plan were unveiled in a public meeting at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, the third such meeting that the Committee has organized within the last year to receive questions and comments from the public. Another meeting will be held on Tuesday, April 18 to continue the process of gathering feedback on the proposed design, which is available to the public online atReimagineTheAlamo.org. Public comment is welcome through the website or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The conversation will also continue on the Reimagine the Alamo Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages.
Since starting work last spring, the Master Plan Team has participated in more than 100 meetings with stakeholders, the public, media, and local, statewide and federal elected officials to share the vision for the project and receive feedback. That commitment to public engagement will continue in San Antonio and across Texas as the process continues and the San Antonio City Council anticipates a vote to conceptually approve the plan on May 11.
"People from all walks of life are touched by the layered history of the Alamo and drawn to its modest remains for deeply personal reasons," said San Antonio City Councilman Roberto Treviño. "San Antonio quite literally grew up around this former mission - it's the physical and spiritual heart of our city. This plan presents a spectacular vision and strategy for achieving something we've been trying to do for decades, and that is to redesign the Alamo Complex in a way that appropriately honors its history and connection to the urban core of San Antonio. As a Council, we will continue to rely on the valuable feedback, insight and support from our citizens and stakeholders as we move through this process."
In 2014, the City of San Antonio appointed a 21-member Citizens Advisory Committee to develop a vision and guiding principles for the area. The committee is chaired by Councilmember Roberto Treviño, Marise McDermott, and Sue Ann Pemberton and includes representatives from various stakeholder organizations as well as appointees by each San Antonio City Councilmember. The resulting Vision and Guiding Principles serve as the foundation for the current Alamo Master Plan effort. A summary of that work is available on SanAntonio.gov.
The thirteen-day Battle of the Alamo in 1836 changed the course of history. In the aftermath of the Battle, General Santa Anna ordered his troops to destroy as much of the site as possible. This was the beginning of the decline of the Mission San Antonio de Valero, known throughout the world as the Alamo. Over the years, the site continued to lose its historic integrity.
Today, it is often heard that it is almost impossible for the more than 1.5 million people who visit the site annually to understand the true historic identity of the Alamo, a place where indigenous families lived, worked, and worshipped for centuries, and where 189 brave heroes died. The goal of this Master Plan is to reverse this decline, restore the reverence and dignity of the site, celebrate the contributions over 300 years of history that led to the creation of the State of Texas, and make the Alamo a place of healing and a bridge that will connect the many cultures and people who shaped it. To do this, the Master Plan proposes to:
- Recapture as much of the historic Alamo site as possible by closing Alamo Street from Commerce to East Houston Street, and Crockett Street from Losoya Street to the historic Menger Hotel.
- Clearly identify the perimeter of the historic compound by using archaeology to expose what remains underground of the original compound walls and stone footings, allowing visitors to see these amazing artifacts in the ground, day and night, through structural glass.
- Expose the real height and stature of the Alamo Church by lowering the elevation of Alamo Plaza to the historic living surface of the compound, approximately 18 to 24 inches below the current elevation.
- Relocate the Cenotaph to an historically significant and prominent location nearby.
- Interpret the South Wall and Gate using 21st century technology and structural glass.
- Create a pedestrian-only promenade and beautiful public space to demonstrate how visitors would have historically entered the Alamo from the south.
- Educate millions of visitors in a world class museum facility that would provide unique opportunities to tell the story of Battle of the Alamo and all the associated dimensions. The museum would be built using the façades of the Crockett, Woolworth, and Palace buildings and developing a four-story interior that includes a spectacular rooftop garden.
- Create a new urban park in the 1936 Garden that differentiates it from the historic mission compound.
"This project will return dignity and reverence to the site for the first time in 181 years and will give the visitor a clear vision of the events that occurred here in 1836 and over the 300 years of layered history," said Alamo Management Committee Chairman Gene Powell. "This world-class project would finally put the iconic Alamo battlefield in the same class with Gettysburg, Vicksburg, Valley Forge, Pearl Harbor, and Normandy. I am deeply grateful for the effort and commitment of the members of the Alamo Management Committee who worked daily for almost two years to bring this proposed plan to fruition."
About the Alamo Master Plan Governance
On October 15, 2015, the Texas General Land Office, the City of San Antonio and the private Alamo Endowment signed a Cooperative Agreement to fund and oversee the development of a new master plan and the implementation of that plan for the Alamo Historic District and Alamo Complex. The process is managed by the Alamo Management Committee, which consists of two representatives each from the three entities. Alamo Management Committee members currently include: Councilman Roberto Treviño and City Manager Sheryl Sculley representing the City of San Antonio; Deputy Commissioner Anne Idsal and Alamo Preservation Project Manager Kim Barker, representing the Texas General Land Office; and Ramona Bass and Gene Powell, representing the Alamo Endowment. Powell serves as Chairman of the Committee. The Alamo Management Committee receives input and advice from the Alamo Advisory Group, comprised of state and local elected officials and representatives, and by a Citizens Advisory Group comprised of 26 people appointed by the Mayor, City Council and the GLO. The Texas Land Commissioner and Mayor of San Antonio serve as the Executive Committee, providing executive management oversight for the master plan.
About the Alamo Master Plan Team
The Principals of the Preservation Design Partnership, LLC (PDP) bring to this project over 50 years of combined experience in heritage planning, design and architecture gained on iconic and complex projects throughout the U.S., including Independence Hall, the U.S. Supreme Court, the Virginia State Capitol and President Lincoln Cottage and Visitor Education Center. Led by nationally recognized thought leader, architect and planner, Dr. George C. Skarmeas, and Managing Principal and preservation architect, Dominique M. Hawkins, PDP is working in collaboration with San Antonio-based Fisher Heck Architects, Heritage Landscapes, Rialto / Grupo De Diseño Urbano and more than a dozen other consultants including historians, engineers, landscape architects, and urban planners to develop a visionary approach to the master plan, one that tells the entire 300-year history of the site.
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