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College of Architecture

Jonathan Barnett: Meeting San Antonio’s 2020 Urban Design Goals

The College of Architecture welcomed guest lecturer Jonathan Barnett, a professor of Practice in City and Regional Planning and Director of Urban Design Program at the University of Pennsylvania during the spring semester.

In the context of SA2020, San Antonio’s future vision initiated by Mayor Julian Castro, Barnett’s lecture title was Meeting San Antonio’s 2020 Urban Design Goals. He presented urban design ideas that promote sustainability and improve growth management, discussed how transportation can restructure the design of the region, and showed urban design concepts for neighborhoods downtowns, and centers or art and culture. Barnett is an architect and planner as well as an educator, and is the author of numerous books and articles on the theory and practice of city design.

“House Jackets” To Save the Planet

During the spring semester, the San Antonio Housing Corporation (SAAHC) facilitated a visual news conference displaying four homes under construction on San Antonio’s Westside. The event explained this collaborative project between SAAHC, UTSA’s College of Architecture, and the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, which will evaluate the energy efficiency of homes constructed from different construction materials. The exterior walls of the homes will be composed of either traditional wood frame, shipping containers (as used on trains and ships) Structural Insulated Panels (SIP Panels), or Autoclaved Concrete Blocks (AAC Blocks). Attendees were shown examples of each of these materials on partially erected walls on each house.

SAAHC has been working with faculty and students from UTSA’s College of Architecture during the past 18 months; both entities have been researching and designing the homes with emphasis on lowering their energy use. Upon completion of the homes, the units will be monitored by the students to determine which homes are the most energy efficient. This will be done under real living conditions, and the homes will be available for rent to families of similar size to ensure an accurate comparison.

SAAHC will be building the first shipping container house and all four homes will meet Level 1 criteria for the “Build San Antonio Green” program.

SPARK School Park Program

Student’s from UTSA’s College of Architecture are developing the design plans for the SPARK School Park Program, a new initiative that improves school playgrounds and turns them into fitness parks that the community can use after school hours. The program was unanimously backed by the San Antonio City Council in April and is modeled after Houston’s SPARK School Park Program, which has transformed more than 200 school playgrounds since 1983.

Local nonprofit San Antonio Sports will oversee the SPARK program in San Antonio and Sky Harbour Elementary School in the Southwest Independent School District is the site of the pilot project. The plans include a playground, outdoor classrooms, fields, trails, and art features. The project is expected to be completed by the end of the year.