I travelled into foreign territory today. It was beautiful. Tree-lined and stately, it seemed as if I’d walked into the college campus of my movie dreams. I had never set foot upon Trinity University’s campus until today. I have to admit that I began to reconsider my life choices. As nice of a campus as UNT has, it doesn’t compare nicely to the O’‘Neil Ford-designed campus built on a old quarry north of San Antonio.
Plaza de Armas, held a little get-together in which leaders of architecture the like gathered to discuss the future of San Antonio1. The discussion covered the standard complaints of cities this size: “Sprawl! Walkability! Preserving Historical Value! Sustainability!” While a bit cliché, it is a necessary thing to say out loud. On one hand it warms my heart to see San Antonians (and powerful ones at that) get together an talk about making things awesome, on the other it concerns me that these people are the usual suspects. Jeana and I had this discussion on the drive home: How do we feel about the upper-middle and upper class white folks making decisions for a city so predominantly brown? Well, when you consider that these people probably are the best qualified, the best equipped, and also interested, it’s hard to argue for others. Any brown-skinned folk (and the less well-heeled) looking to have their point of view be discussed had better make themselves more informed and better able to deal with this kind of discussion2. Else, it will be business as usual. These Olmos Park-types have been running this thing for ages.
As for the discussion proper, it was nice to hear that we are taking city design seriously enough to make it a department. Tim Cone of the Historic Design and Review Commission also defended his group’s role as protector and enabler of good, respectful design and not a roadblock to innovation and growth.
You didn’t miss much if you didn’t attend. You won’t be riveted if you watch the video, but if you are a budding policy/planner kind of person this will be something you want to check out.
S/O to Ben Olivo’s Downtown blog for hipping us to the event.
Panelists: City Design Center director Mark Brodeur Irby Hightower, Alamo Architects; Dan Markson, NRP Group; Anita Devora, executive director of Build San Antonio Green; and Timothy Cone, chairman of the Historic Design and Review Commission.
This was originally published here