Robert J. and Helen C. Kelberg South Texas Heritage Center / Ford, Powell & Carson

© Dror Baldinger

Architects: Ford, Powell & Carson
Location: 3801 Broadway Street, , TX 78209, USA
Principal In Charge: Chris Carson, FAIA
Project Manager: Allison Chambers, Assoc. AIA
Project Architect: Yu-Long Yang, AIA
Area: 20570.0 sqm
Year: 2012
Photographs: Dror Baldinger

© Dror Baldinger

Construction Administration: Steve Trevino
Project Designer: Nathan Perez
Mep: TTG Goetting
Structural: Danysh & Associates
Civil: Pape-Dawson Engineers, Inc.
Landscape: Dixie Watkins, III & Associates
Lighting: Available Lighting
Construction: Guido Brothers Construction Company

From the architect. The South Texas Heritage Center Museum includes the restoration of the historic Pioneer Hall and the design of an addition, set on the banks of the San Antonio River, intended to breathe new life into the existing building originally constructed for Texas’ Centennial celebration. The new South Texas Heritage Center continues the original founder’s mission of teaching the stories South Texas settlers through the use of historic artifacts, paintings, and photographs from the Witte Museum’s vast collection utilizing the latest interactive displays to engage and educate both children and adults about the history of the region.

© Dror Baldinger

The challenge was to design a sensitive addition that would enhance the beauty of this important historic Beaux-Arts building.  Inspired by the building’s setting within Brackenridge Park along the San Antonio River, the architect developed a design concept for the addition reminiscent of a 1930’s era park pavilion that would be full of light with sweeping views of the river. It was important to design an addition with scale and proportions relating to, and reflecting architectural elements of the existing landmark building, while at the same time avoiding the construction of its mirror image.

© Dror Baldinger

The steel-framed curtain wall of the addition encloses a grand 30-foot tall atrium space, which serves not only as the grand entrance hall for the new Center, but also as a wonderful place for receptions and fundraising.  The preserved West exterior wall of Pioneer Hall provides a beautiful interior backdrop to the glass covered atrium, and also acts as the physical link between the old and new.

© Dror Baldinger

Sustainable features were incorporated in the design from the very beginning including deep overhangs, insulated UV-filtered glass, locally sourced materials, and a grey water drip irrigation system.  The foundation of the addition is predominantly suspended slab, which was designed to have as little impact on the undisturbed natural grade as possible, while also allowing river floodwater to flow beneath it during heavy rains.


The highlight of the new landscape surrounding the South Texas Heritage Center is the riverside amphitheater that uses cut stone benches and natural boulders, woven beneath the canopies of existing trees, to minimize the impact on the park setting.

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* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "Robert J. and Helen C. Kelberg South Texas Heritage Center / Ford, Powell & Carson" 16 Apr 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed 22 Sep 2014. <>

1 comment

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    Perhaps a facilities enhancement but certainly not an aesthetic one. The styles jar against each other in a jarring manner.

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