Cesar Pelli. Photo © 2016 Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects
Cesar Pelli. Photo © 2016 Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects

Cesar Pelli, the founding partner of the New Haven, Conn. architecture firm designing the Frost Bank Tower for Weston Urban and KDC, has canceled his Wednesday evening lecture at UTSA’s Downtown Campus.

Pelli, the senior principal at Pelli Clarke Pelli, was set to deliver a talk titled “Becoming an Architect” at UTSA’s College of Architecture, Construction and Planning as part of the school’s 2015-16 Speaker Series. University officials said Pelli canceled due to illness, and expect the talk to be rescheduled at a later date. The Speaker Series lectures are free and open to the public.

Cesar Pelli & Associates was founded in 1977, the same year Pelli was named dean of the Yale University School of Architecture, also in New Haven. Pelli left that position in 1984, but continues to lecture on architecture. The firm and its designs, including many office towers, has been recognized internationally for its work. Both the firm and Pelli individually have won the highest awards bestowed by the American Institute of Architects (AIA). The firm’s name was changed in 2005.

Pelli Clarke Pelli was selected by Weston Urban and its Dallas-based development partner, KDC, in September 2015 to design the city’s first new downtown tower since the opening of the Weston Centre more than 25 years ago. The new 400,000 sq. ft. tower will be built by Weston Urban, the company that owns and recently redeveloped the historic Rand Building on East Houston Street, and will become the new corporate headquarters of Frost Bank, which also has its name on signature downtown buildings in other Texas cities.

The Frost Motor Bank. Photo by Scott Ball.
The Frost Motor Bank, where Weston Urban will construct Frost Bank’s new office tower. Photo by Scott Ball.

Various developed properties spread over several square blocks of downtown were sold or swapped in a complex private public partnership involving Weston Urban, Frost Bank and the City of San Antonio. The planned improvements include the addition of more than 300 residential units separate from the mixed-use tower, all located along or near San Pedro Creek, which is being redeveloped in time for San Antonio’s celebration of its 300th anniversary in May 2018. The City of San Antonio will assume ownership of the existing Frost Bank Tower once it is vacated, and after refurbishing it, will be able to centralize a larger segment of its civilian workforce now located in four different office locations. Weston Urban will become the owner of the Municipal Plaza Building, excepting the ground floor City Council offices.

Frost Bank is expected to lease 250,000 sq. ft. of the new tower. Weston Urban has not disclosed the names of other prospective or confirmed tenants. The tower will include ground-level retail. Weston Urban was founded by Rackspace co-founder and Chairman Graham Weston, a major proponent of downtown redevelopment. Geekdom, the co-working space and tech collaborative co-founded by Weston, is housed in the nearby Rand Building, which he acquired from Frost bank in a separate deal several years ago and then refurbished. Ground level retail also is expected to open in the Rand sometime in 2016.

The project is expected to revitalize the western reaches of downtown now blighted by vacant buildings, underdeveloped properties, and general inactivity.

Pelli was not expected to reveal conceptual designs for the new Frost Bank Tower at his lecture, and Weston Urban CEO Randy Smith has not set a date for release of the tower design renderings. Pelli Clarke Pelli is working with San Antonio-based Alamo Architects on the project.

Pelli Clarke Pelli designed the World Financial Center in New York and the International Finance Center in Hong Kong. The firm’s office tower at 30 Hudson Street in Jersey City, New Jersey across from Manhattan was one of the first 50 buildings in the world to achieve LEED certification.


*Top image: Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects Senior Principal Cesar Pelli. Photo © 2016 Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects

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Robert Rivard, co-founder of the San Antonio Report who retired in 2022, has been a working journalist for 46 years. He is the host of the bigcitysmalltown podcast.