A conceptual rendering of the Alamo museum and visitors center.
A conceptual rendering of the Alamo museum and visitors center. Credit: Courtesy / Alamo Trust

This article has been updated.

The Alamo Trust announced Friday that Gensler, a global architectural firm with a San Antonio office, and local firm GRG Architecture will design the new Alamo visitor center and museum.

The two firms also designed the $15 million Alamo Exhibition Hall and Collections Building, which broke ground last month and is scheduled for completion next year. Three historic buildings directly west of the Alamo — the Woolworth and Crockett block buildings — will be renovated to house the visitor center and museum.

Design of the new facility will begin immediately with a phased construction start in 2023, according to a news release. With 30,000 square feet of exhibition and gallery space, the museum will be the centerpiece of the multimillion plan to redevelop Alamo Plaza surrounding the historic mission and battle site.

“The Alamo is one of our most important landmarks — certainly in Texas history, but also in the United States — and is known around the world,” said Kate Rogers, executive director of the Alamo Trust, the site’s nonprofit steward, in a new release. “We must preserve this history and share the stories of all who lived, fought and died at the Alamo, and we will be doing it in a way that speaks to our shared history and its continued relevance.”

The trust’s seven-member board unanimously selected Gensler and GRG from among 13 applicants.

The Alamo redevelopment plan was revised in April after the Texas Historical Commission blocked the relocation of the Alamo Cenotaph last year.

The estimated $388 million redevelopment — a result of a partnership between the City of San Antonio, Texas General Land Office (GLO), and the Alamo Trust — has been on the drawing board since 2014. It’s seen a number of tumultuous fits and starts. The controversial elements — lowering the plaza grade, moving the cenotaph, and walls around the plaza — have been removed from the revised, less expensive plan.

Boston-based Machado Silvetti was hired in 2019 by the GLO and given a $1.6 million contract to design the museum. Machado Silvetti officials issued a statement saying the firm was no longer involved in the project.

“In July of 2021, we were made aware that the Alamo had issued a new Request for  Qualifications for the Alamo Visitor Center and Museum,” the firm stated. “We again submitted our qualifications for this proposal, but were not chosen to proceed any further in the application and selection  process.”  

GLO officials did not respond to an email seeking comment.

A team of historians, with the help of the city-led Alamo Citizens Advisory Committee, is working on a chronological and thematic outline of the periods that five galleries inside the museum will explore: Contact and Colonialism/Mission to Fort, Revolution and Independence, Battle of the Alamo, The Rise of Texas, and Lasting Significance of the Alamo.

An outline of that work will likely be finished and publicly available this month, officials have said.

The advisory committee, which is chaired by former City Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran (D3), resumed its regular public meetings virtually on Tuesday.

Disclosure: Kate Rogers previously served on the San Antonio Report’s board of directors.

Iris Dimmick

Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick covers public policy pertaining to social issues, ranging from affordable housing and economic disparity to policing reform and workforce development. Contact her at iris@sareport.org