San Antonio officials hope to address climate change in new city design competition

Design competition open to architects is accepting solutions for city shading

A new San Antonio design competition hopes to address climate change by utilizing architecture to help cool the city.

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio officials hope to address climate change in a new city design competition by utilizing architecture to help cool the area.

District 1 Councilman Roberto Trevino teamed up with the American Institute of Architects of San Antonio and Centro San Antonio for the project. Trevino said the competition will inspire creativity while also helping to draft ideas to help combat climate change at the local level.

“In San Antonio, it’s really hot. The sun is very hot, and so we need to have something that can offset that heat, and trees are the best way to do that. But when we can’t plant a tree, we want to do architectural devices,” Trevino said.

The design competition challenges design teams to create shade structures that the city can utilize to help cool areas.

“This is important as part of our overall infrastructure as a city, as we promote more pedestrians being able to walk all over our city,” Trevino said. “(There are) more people biking all over the city. We need to make sure that those temperatures are in a range and are comfortable and safe.”

Jay Louden, a former chapter president for the American Institute of Architects, said the competition is flexible and allows for creative solutions among entries.

“We wanted some realistic ideas that could happen quickly,” Louden said. "But there’s a lot of ability for the participants to do whatever they like, integrate art, think about maybe a way to plug in and charge a cell phone. Different colors, different materials and different sizes -- this is a competition that will affect every citizen in San Antonio because it will help improve their quality of life.

The shade structures should provide at least 80% shade coverage to sidewalks and street corners.

The competition focused on three sites in downtown, all in need of shading solutions:

  • Market/Dolorosa streets across from the Westin Hotel, long stretch on the garage side/north side of the street; from Navarro continuing past St. Mary’s (Drury Hotel) to Main Plaza.
  • Flores Street at Commerce Street, along the old Frost parking garage
  • River bridge on Houston Street near the Valencia Hotel

The winning entry will receive a $10,000 prize. Second and third place will receive $3,500 and $1,500, respectively.

The final design could be implemented in future city projects.

View the different entries online by clicking here.

Related: KSAT Explains: The science and impact of climate change

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