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UTSA College of Architecture designs for Boerne

UTSA architecture students 'redesign' Boerne

(Nov. 6, 2008)--Last spring, Associate Professor Vincent Canizaro and Lecturer Darryl Ohlenbusch guided 25 students through a UTSA College of Architecture design studio aimed at providing a vision for the future of the community of Boerne, Texas. Graduate students in Canizaro's and junior students in Ohlenbusch's classes worked on design proposals for buildings in the city, engaging the community in the process of the design development.

The impetus for the design projects was a grant from the American Institute of Architects for a regional/urban design assistance team (RUDAT) aimed at helping the City of Boerne work through its present and future development pressures.

City of Boerne Senior Planner Paul Barwick, who initiated the process, was concerned about increasing pressure on the local ecology and the loss of its heritage and small-town character as Boerne’s population booms. Because the 158-year-old German settlement is becoming a bedroom community for San Antonio, rapid growth has brought a host of residential and commercial developers to the area. The growth is adding traffic, strip shopping centers and big-box retail to an area known more for pioneer Texas architecture, Main Street, creeks and ranch land.

In response, the studios focused on projects that would help inform the RUDAT team and local residents. Environmental and cultural sustainability emerged as guiding principles. The students engaged in intensive research, studying and drawing key historical buildings, mapping and working to determine key themes that contribute to better understanding Boerne's underlying ecology and what makes it a desirable place to live.

Design projects focused on a variety of areas. Ohlenbusch's studio focused on proposals for Boerne's new "city campus" including a city hall and library. Canizaro's studio developed a wide range of independent proposals including a downtown grocery store, parking garage, recycling center, spa, plaza, garden housing complex and a variety of installations aimed at both preserving and enhancing the quality of life in Boerne as it grows.

The results of the studio were exhibited at Boerne Public Library at the end of the semester. All of the research and design proposals culminated in the publication, "Document on the City: Boerne, Texas: A Manual for Growth and Preservation," copies of which were presented to the RUDAT team and the citizens of Boerne. The UTSA College of Architecture will continue its relationship with Boerne in future design projects.

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