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TX Town Seeks River Craft Innovation

Monday, November 2, 2015

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The City of San Antonio is launching an international design competition to reinterpret its “river barge” vessels for the city’s upcoming 300th anniversary.

Not the industrial coal and materials haulers you see on many rivers, San Antonio’s river barges are entertainment and travel vessels on which tours and dinners are hosted or residents commute along the San Antonio River.

iStock.com / David Sucsy
© iStock.com / DavidSucsy

With its tricentennial approaching in 2018, the City of San Antonio is partnering with AIA San Antonio to find new concepts for its passenger river barges.

With its tricentennial approaching in 2018, the City of San Antonio is partnering with the American Institute of Architects, San Antonio Chapter (AIA San Antonio) to invite concepts for the fleet’s new look, the partners announced Tuesday (Oct. 27).

Reimagine the River Barge

The competition, which opened Friday (Oct. 30), asks participants to reimagine the river barge experience as a quality transportation option with newly designed, more sustainable and modular vessels using innovative technology to meet the varying needs of tourists, residents and daily commuters.

“The San Antonio River is an iconic community feature,” Nicole Marrone, AIA San Antonio president, said in the statement.

“Our chapter is honored to partner with the City of San Antonio on this project to transform the River Walk experience. Local architects applaud the City’s commitment to make the river barge a more sustainable, passenger-friendly experience for tourists and locals alike.”

According to District 1 City Councilman Roberto C. Treviño, the current design dates back to 1995 and is more indicative of the city’s past.  

“This design competition will ensure the winning design is reflective of a culturally rich and progressive city,” Treviño said.

Design Guidelines

Local, national and international teams are invited to submit their innovative designs, keeping the following goals in mind.

Zereshk CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Zereshk CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

According to District 1 City Councilman Roberto C. Treviño, the current design dates back to 1995 and is more indicative of the city’s past.

The concepts should be geared toward an all-electric fleet and make use of innovative new materials.

Designs should be modular in that they can adapt to a variety of sizes and uses, including accommodations for commuters and tourists, for tours seating a minimum of 35, or for dinner and other events. They must also be ADA-compliant.

The barges need be able to travel through the city’s locks, at a size no larger than 9 by 28 feet, and provide a safe ride with minimal wake.

The design should also be compatible with the city’s identity and branding.

Envisioning a New Fleet

The design competition will be conducted in two phases.

Phase one is an open call for design teams to submit a narrative explaining their design concepts along with detailed renderings. Narrative submissions are due Dec. 7.

A jury of nine—of which six are local to San Antonio and will include an international architect and boat designer and a naval architect/engineer—will shortlist three finalists who meet the design competition requirements. The shortlisted teams will be announced Dec. 18

Selections will be based on whether the design and technology are innovative, the appropriateness and innovation of the materials specified, and relevancy of the design to various aspects of the city’s identity. Additionally, the barge must be both buildable and economically feasible to produce.

In phase two, the three finalists will receive a $7,500 stipend for design development, which is to include a physical 3-D model, renderings, technical specifications, a cost estimate, branding and material samples. Those submissions are due Jan. 25.

The teams will also receive a $2,500 travel stipend to present their concept to the jury in San Antonio and participate in an open house on Feb. 8 when the community will view the designs.

istock.com / James Anderson
© iStock.com / James Anderson

Upon selection of the winning design, the City of San Antonio will release a Request for Proposals (RFP) for manufacturing of the barges, purchase the fleet and lease to an operator.

The top three teams will each receive a tiered cash prize when the competition winner is announced Feb. 10.

A complete overview of the design competition guidelines, dates and budget is available here.

Realizing the Vision

Upon selection of the winning design, the City of San Antonio will release a Request for Proposals (RFP) for manufacturing of the barges, purchase the fleet and lease to an operator.

The City will issue a second RFP for operation and programming of the barge fleet.

“This innovative approach will relieve the financial burden of a potential operator having to secure the upfront capital to purchase the barge fleet,” said Mayor Ivy R. Taylor.

“Not only will we be able to offer an outstanding transportation option, we will encourage more competition through the RFP process.”

RFPs for manufacturing and operation of the fleet will be issued in March 2016.

The design competition is sponsored by the San Antonio River Authority and the San Antonio Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The registration link for the competition will be available beginning Oct. 30 on the AIA San Antonio website, www.aiasa.org.

   

Tagged categories: Competitions; Contests; Design build; North America; Program/Project Management

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