River Barge Design Competition Finalists Announced

Luna Architecture

Finalist Luna Architecture's proposed redesign of San Antonio's iconic river barge – rendering courtesy AIA San Antonio

In honor of San Antonio’s upcoming 300th anniversary in 2018, AIA San Antonio has sponsored an international design competition to re-imagine the River Walk’s iconic river barge (see our earlier post about the competition here). The contest is seeking to discover a barge that is more sustainable, serving commuters as well as tourists. This includes making the fleet of barges entirely electric. 


METALAB's proposed barge – rendering courtesy AIA San Antonio

On February 22, the City of San Antonio and AIA San Antonio announced the contest’s three finalist teams. They were selected from a total of 12 submissions by a panel of jurors made up of community leaders, artists, hospitality industry representatives, and architects. The finalists are: METALAB (Houston); Luna Architecture + Design (San Antonio) with Lay Pittman & Associates (Neptune Beach, Fl.); and Sadi Brewton + Jonathan Davies (Austin).

The three finalist projects display a sense of whimsy and an acknowledgement of San Antonio’s unique atmosphere. Luna Architecture’s barge is covered by an awning to mitigate the Texas sun and lined with a railing similar in appearance to Mexican papel picado banners. METALAB envisions oval barges that could fit a dining table just as well as seats, the exterior made from colorful metal panels also perforated in papel picado fashion. Finally, Sadi Brewton and Jonathan Davies present a pared down design for the barges — angular, simple, and colorful. All of the proposed projects look to inject a contemporary, festive spirit into the Riverwalk, a tourist destination that already draws nearly 12 million visitors annually.

Sadi Brewton and Jonathan Davies

Sadi Brewton and Jonathan Davies' design – rendering courtesy AIA San Antonio

Each finalist team was presented with $7,500 to develop their designs and a 3-D physical model, along with detailed renderings, technical specifications, a cost estimate for construction, branding, and materials samples. The teams will present their final concepts to the jury. After a public showcase of the three designs on March 28 at the Center for Architecture Gallery and an opportunity to receive input from the public, the winner will be selected on April 2.

The winning design will be developed through construction and may perhaps be the beginning of a new fleet of river barges and a new era for San Antonio.

For more information, visit www.aiasanantonio-riverbarge.org.