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Ladies and Gentlemen:

As architects, we believe that the Alamo Plaza Master Plan in its final form can restore both the Alamo and the integrity of this historic place in our city. We applaud this incredible effort. All the citizens in our city and our state want this plan to succeed. 

To be a vital destination for everyone, it is equally important to have the plaza be a dynamic and welcoming civic space as it has been for the past 200 years – perhaps the most memorable place in the state.

The purchase by the State of Texas of the plaza’s western historic buildings and their eventual adaptation into a museum is a brilliant part of the master plan. The removal of the cenotaph and the raised planters around it will create a stronger plaza and will more successfully recall the spirit of the Alamo grounds.

However, the removal of large old oaks, themselves an integral part of the history of Alamo Plaza, will create a very hot and unwelcoming place. As you may know “Alamo” is “cottonwood” in Spanish, and as such perhaps the proposed acequia could irrigate a grove of Los Alamos. 

Mission courtyards were the center of community activity and Misión San Antonio de Valero’s must remain a part of ours: open, welcoming, and inclusive.

The plaza, as it is currently envisioned with a glass wall separating the Alamo grounds from the rest of the city, creates a walled destination for Alamo visitors and inhibits the use of the space for the public. Being able to freely move into the plaza from any direction is a pivotal character in all great plazas. We feel that the plaza should be both a historic place and a vibrant public space fully connected to the city. 

The city must undertake a broader study of downtown’s streets and plazas, implementing a solution that keeps downtown connected north to south and east to west for vehicles, bikes, and pedestrians.

Like all good master plans, the first plan is the beginning of the conversation. We should honor the Alamo and Alamo Plaza by having a thoughtful “listening” period to allow the plan to get better (building upon the successes of the River North, Broadway, Hemisfair, and Southtown Master Plans). Alamo Plaza should be a memorable place for citizens to return to again and again, a place that strengthens our city.

On May 11, we hope the City Council will approve the master plan conditional on the need for a continuing process that keeps the plaza as a connected, civic space rather than a controlled-access outdoor museum. The plaza must be a welcoming and integral part of our city, balancing the historic aspects of the Alamo with the civic needs of the plaza. 

The master plan process should enable citizens of the city and state, together with stakeholders, to thoughtfully consider and then shape a plan which ultimately creates the vibrant heart our downtown deserves. For more than 200 years, the Alamo and the plaza have been shaping our community and our citizens. The Alamo is truly the heart and soul of our city, welcoming everyone to honor our history and our vibrant culture.   

We congratulate the Alamo Commission, the City of San Antonio, and the Texas General Land Office for a great beginning to a plan that should lead to a transformative place.

Respectfully,

David Lake, FAIA

Partner, Lake|Flato Architects

Ted Flato, FAIA

 Partner, Lake|Flato Architects

Gregory S. Papay, FAIA

Partner, Lake|Flato Architects

Andrew Herdeg, FAIA

Partner, Lake|Flato Architects 

Robert Harris, FAIA

Partner, Lake|Flato Architects

Matthew K. Morris, FAIA

Partner, Lake|Flato Architects 

Karla Greer, AIA

Partner, Lake|Flato Architects

Kim Monroe, AIA

Partner, Lake|Flato Architects 

Irby Hightower, FAIA

Principal, Alamo Architects

Billy Lawrence, AIA

Principal, Alamo Architects

Mike Lanford, AIA

Principal, Alamo Architects

Mike McGlone, AIA

Principal, Alamo Architects

Jerry Lammers, AIA 

Principal, Alamo Architects

Jim Bailey, AIA

Associate Principal, Alamo Architects

Ariel Chavela

Associate Principal, Alamo Architects

Lawrence W. Speck, FAIA

Professor, UT Austin School of Architecture

Richard M. Archer, FAIA

Principal, Overland Partners

Madison Smith

Principal, Overland Partners

Various San Antonio Architects

Various San Antonio Architects

This letter was written by architect David Lake, co-founder of Lake|Flato, and his colleagues Ted Flato, Irby Hightower, and Billy Lawrence. It includes a growing list of signatures and is being circulated...