Three Finalists Named in the International River Barge Design Competition

click to enlarge Out with the old, in with the new. - Courtesy
Out with the old, in with the new.
There's just one San Antonio organization in the three finalist teams for the competition to develop a new design for the city's river barge fleet.

The city and the San Antonio chapter of The American Institute of Architects announced Tuesday afternoon that finalists include METALAB, of Houston, Luna Architecture + Design, of San Antonio, in partnership with Lay Pittman & Associates from Neptune Beach, Florida, and Sadi Brewton and Jonathan Davies, of Austin.

According to a press release, during the competition's first phase, teams developed a design concept over three months and then submitted it sans logos, names or any other info to make sure it was anonymous. The city says a distinguished panel of jurors — culled from community leaders, artists, hospitality industry reps and architects — selected the top three proposals from 12 anonymous submissions. Selections were based on innovation, functionality, operational and program capabilities, and sensitivity to Alamo City culture, the city says.

“This innovative approach to river travel is creating a sustainable future for San Antonio and our world-famous River Walk,” Mayor Ivy R. Taylor says in the news release. “The new river barges will create an outstanding transportation option, with the possibility of allowing some residents to commute to work on an all-electric barge. The new fleet will honor the original 1920’s River Walk design as San Antonio prepares for its Tricentennial in 2018.”

The finalists will receive $7,500 to further develop their concepts and must submit a 3-D model, detailed renderings, technical specifications, cost estimate, branding and material samples.

“The first phase of the competition yielded progressive design ideas from across the nation, adapted specifically for our unique city,” Christine Viña, AIA San Antonio President, says. “The submission concepts ranged from historic to contemporary and many offered innovative new concepts for barge uses. We look forward to seeing the full expression of the finalist teams’ visions in the next phase of this competition.”

The city claims that despite the jury being aware of the finalist's names, there will be a degree of anonymity because the names are not attributed on the designs. However, according to the news release, finalists will present the developed concepts to the jury, and a winner will be announced April 2.

“The new river barge is an asset that belongs to all of San Antonio,” Roberto C. Treviño, District 1 City Councilman and an architect says. “The open house is an opportunity for our citizens to provide input on which design they feel represents San Antonio. Design teams were challenged to think beyond aesthetics and truly transform the river barge experience for the next generation. Community feedback on the design is critical to a successful outcome.”

Once the winner is selected, the city will issue two Requests for Proposals, the first for procuring the barge fleet and the second for operating and programming. This should happen in late April. 

The public has an opportunity to see the designs during a March 28 open house at the AIA's Center for Architecture Gallery at 1344 S. Flores Street from 6 to 8 p.m.

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