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Southwest School of Art Facade
San Antonio, TX


Mark Rios
Greg Kochanowski
Clay Taylor
Bob Frederick


The historic Ursuline Campus of the Southwest School of Art holds a special place not only within the hearts of the students and faculty, but within San Antonio’s as well. When the SSA issued a call for ideas to make its adjacent Navarro Campus “just as memorable” as the Ursuline Campus, we developed a design that respects the architectural significance of the historic campus while at the same time extending formal characteristics to create a contemporary vision for the future of the school in general and for the Navarro Campus in particular. A former car dealership, the Navarro Campus is disconnected both spatially and physically from the historic campus. Our design endeavors to strengthen their relationship by gesturing the main mass of a new structure towards the historic campus.

Similar to the lines of the groin vaults in Gothic architecture, our design creates a grid shell, or lattice structure, that envelops the existing
Navarro Campus building. The massing of the new structure pays homage to the school’s historic chapel by playing off the gabled geometry and extending it to address surrounding urban context. The lattice's pattern references a woven textile or basket – the figurative and literal creative fabric of the SSA.

Our proposal is not a static formal gesture. Rather, the lattice will be a Living Icon that temporally engages the creative life of the school. Each open cell of the lattice will be filled in, over time, in one of three ways: 1) permanently, whenever a graduate of the newly formed BFA and MFA classes creates a panel; 2) temporarily, as part of an installation or exhibition in which artists create works that engage the structure; and 3) by the creation of donor panels. Some cells will always remain open. As the cells fill in, the communal efforts of the SSA shape the look and feel of the lattice.