Thursday,
April 17

 
CULTURE

The future bends to SA's skyline


Following my first column on the San Antonio skyline I received a fair amount of feedback from architects, developers, and engaged readers who were supportive of the idea that the first 30 feet from the ground is more important than how our city meets the sky. There was agreement that, essentially, it was old school to think of skyline as a city brand, something exploitable and exportable as a symbol of pride. In agreeing to move beyond the modern-day obsession with skyline, it also seems that we should be just as concerned with how buildings perform as how they appear.

Local architect Jim Poteet offered: “The era of the skyscraper was an expression of the rise of American corporate capitalism, an expression of individualist competition I don’t think that tall buildings are necessary for a city to be vibrant and alive, even in the US. No one faults Rome for lack of a high-rise skyline. I firmly believe that it is the first 30 feet or so is where the life of a city exists and that medium-rise buildings can provide the necessary density to support this life. Walkability, street life, markets, and urban parks are some of the measures of vibrancy and they have to be supported by adequate density of people living and working nearby.” He suggests that we should leave the race to the sky, to build the tallest building, to emerging economies with something to prove – nations in the Middle East and Asia hell-bent on seeing how high they can go.

Consensus: San Antonio’s future is at street level. Many cities San Antonio envies one way or another learned this lesson a long time ago.


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