BHP Pavilion at Confluence Park
San Antonio, TX, USA
Andrew Kudless / Matsys
Lake | Flato Architects (Architect of Record) Architectural Engineering Collaborative (Structural Engineer) Rialto Studio (Landscape Architects) CNG Engineering (MEP Engineer)
San Antonio River Foundation
Andrew Kudless Cade Bradshaw and Stuart Allen Justin Moore
From the very beginning of the project, it was clear that the client envisioned a unique type of park. Unlike most parks that are primarily recreational, Confluence Park was already adjacent to 8-miles of hiking and biking trails in the Mission Reach. Instead, the primary project directive was to create a civic space that facilitated the client’s mission to inspire and educate the general public and specifically school-age children on topics of sustainability. It was our goal to integrate this mission into every component of the design. The design of the BHP Pavilion at Confluence Park was inspired by the way many regional plants capture dew and rainwater. Unlike most human-built structures which shed water away from the structure, many plants invert this diagram and funnel water to their central root system. The Pavilion celebrates the flow of water and its critical importance to the region’s ecosystems by funneling rainwater to the Pavilion’s center via a series of concrete petals where it is collected and redirected to an adjacent underground cistern used as the Park’s irrigation supply. The Pavilion also needed to provide abundant shade for visitors during the region’s many hot days. The pavilion acts as an outdoor classroom, informal lunchroom, and general gathering space and the soaring concrete petals produce dynamic and ample shade for visiting school groups. As the park is organized into smaller ecotypes that represent the ecosystems of the larger region, the satellite pavilions serve as additional shade structures as visitors move throughout the park.
Confluence Park is a new recreational and educational park along the revitalized historic Mission Reach section of the San Antonio River. The Mission Reach is an 8-mile stretch of the San Antonio River whose riparian woodland ecosystem was restored in 2013 and connects the downtown Riverwalk to the underserved communities of the south side as well as the Unesco World Heritage sites of five 18th-century historic Spanish missions via a new network of pedestrian trails. Confluence Park, named after its location at the confluence of the San Antonio River and San Pedro Creek, was planned as a central landmark of this new civic space which could further the San Antonio River Foundation’s mission to inspire and educate visitors on topics of environmental science, sustainability, and the critical importance of water in the San Antonio River watershed community. Matsys and Lake | Flato Architects were commissioned in 2014 to continue the development of the Foundation’s ongoing project with the landscape architecture firm Rialto Studio and to provide designs for a central pavilion, several smaller satellite pavilions located throughout the park, and a multi-purpose building consisting of an indoor classroom, restrooms, and event storage. All project partners worked collaboratively throughout the project on its various components, although each partner developed focus areas where they acted as the lead designers. Matsys took the lead on the central and satellite pavilion designs, Lake | Flato focused on the design of the multi-purpose building, and Rialto Studio developed the overall landscape design.
As San Antonio is one of the country’s fastest growing cities, the park is acting as hub for surrounding development. The park provides the historically underserved local community with space that celebrates the rich ecosystems of the region while also connecting the community to the restored Mission Reach hiking and biking trails. Recently opened to the public, the Pavilion and Park have already become landmark civic spaces. The client has worked hard with a variety of community partners to integrate the park into various recreational and educational programming and the community response has been very enthusiastic. The project is already booked throughout this upcoming summer with day camps exploring sustainability, environmental science, and art. Starting in March 2018, the educational programming will ramp up with many visiting school groups as well as programming for the local adult community. One of the strongest examples of the project’s success has been the response by local neighbors. During early development of the project, neighbors were wary of increased traffic and parking due to the project and had requested restricting access along its western border. However, through community outreach during the design development, opinions changed and the local community requested two new entrances to the project from adjacent streets. It is our hope that Confluence Park and the BHP Pavilion will continue to engage the local community while becoming an important civic hub for the citizens of greater San Antonio as well as visitors to the World Heritage Mission Reach historic sites.