Saturday, June 30, 2012

San Jacinto Revamp Moves Into Final Design Phase

San Jacinto Plaza Landscape Plan by SWA Group
The San Jacinto Plaza reconstruction project could be ready for bid within five months and will retain the famous Los Lagartos sculpture at the center of the park which will include an added protective shade structure. City Council voted in June to award the contract for final construction documents to SWA Group, an international design firm specializing in civic projects.

SWA Group unveiled the final illustrative design for the park earlier in 2012, which reverted back to a more traditional framework which includes paths sprouting outward from a central plaza but includes many new modern amenities. Bocce ball courts, a splash deck, a park cafe, retail kiosks, a reflecting pond, table tennis and chess courtyards, and expanded lawn areas are some of the new elements included in the new plan. City leaders desired a more user friendly set up for the plaza and get that with this plan, a big change from the fenced off green areas residents find today at San Jacinto.

The City will also expand the park in each direction by reclaiming current parking lanes around the perimeter of the plaza. This should extend each side by about ten feet. An infusion of trees will create large expanses of pathways and sidewalks that are shaded from the sun.

Preliminary redesigns showed a stark change from the current plaza, but met resistance from residents when unveiled. A special point of contention was the initial removal of the alligator sculpture from the park. The outcry led to the sculpture regaining its prominent spot at the center of the park, but with some changes around it. A shade structure will be constructed around and over the artwork in order to help protect it from the elements. A balustrade circle and reflecting pool will create a ring around the sculpture. And the statue itself will be restored.
A shade structure will protect the alligator sculpture.

SWA Group will remain as consultant after the project goes out to bid and during construction, according to the contract approved by the City. The City is paying $500,000 for SWA's services.

City Council Agenda Item (PDF): http://www.elpasotexas.gov/muni_clerk/agenda/06-12-12/06121212.pdf
SWA Group Website: http://www.swagroup.com/

5 comments:

  1. Looks nice and lots of trees which is always a good thing.

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  2. The previous plans called for the area to be ready to receive live alligators if the city chose to do so in the future, is that still the case with this design?

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    1. I can't answer that for sure, but I don't think that will be an option. I think the sculpture will be the only thing left in the center of the plaza.

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    2. That idea came up in the early stages of the redesign, but the City ultimately felt it would cost too much to create that type of zoo-quality exhibit. The habitat would also take up a lot of space.

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