The debate over the future of Alamo Plaza is about to get real, as the Alamo Plan Management Committee is issuing requests for qualifications from architects to design the Alamo Museum, which will be a key piece of the process of reimagining the Alamo, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
The Request for Qualifications does not say whether the museum will be constructed in the 'Crockett Block' of buildings across Alamo Street from Alamo Plaza, which has been proposed by many critics of the re-imagining plan, or whether those buildings will be demolished and a new museum constructed somewhere on Alamo Plaza.
The General Land Office, which is managing the estimated $300 million Alamo Plaza Renovation project, says the museum will, according to the Request for Qualifications, "shows respect and honor for the defenders who gave their lives for Texas independence during the battle of the Alamo in 1836. The museum will also showcase the Alamo’s history prior to the battle, its connection to the four other Spanish missions and the San Antonio River, its connection to Spain and Mexico, its connection to the church, to the area’s indigenous people and the Alamo’s connection to the economic, emotional and spiritual foundation on which the City of San Antonio was built."
The Alamo Plaza redevelopment effort has stalled amid controversy over several issues, including whether to fence or wall off the plaza from the rest of the downtown, whether to move the 1930s era Cenotaph, whether to close Alamo Street and portions of Houston Street to traffic, and whether the commemorative space should focus primarily on the 1836 battle, or cover the entire sweep of the history of San Antonio, the Southwest, and 10,000 years of human habitation.
Gene Powell, who heads the Alamo Plan Management Committee, say she hopes to have the 'world class museum,' which will house the artifacts donated to the state by musician Phil Collins as well as other items, be open by 2024, which is the 300th anniversary of the construction of the Alamo mission in its current location.
"To accomplish this we need to move forward by hiring creative teams with substantial experience in designing world-class museums and visitor centers which are joined to iconic and world-class sites such as the Alamo Mission and Battlefield. The museum and visitor center will be one of the largest and most important components of this project and the committee has long been committed to this critical phase of the design and are eager to begin engaging with the creative teams that are eventually selected," Powell said.
The battle over Alamo redevelopment is rapidly becoming a question of whether the Alamo belongs to San Antonio, or belongs to the world.
Local activists want to, for example, keep Alamo Street open for the Battle of Flowers Parade, and they fight efforts to move the Cenotaph to a location near the Menger Hotel.
Others who see the Alamo as an international landmark say Alamo Plaza shoudl become more like, for example, the Gettysburg Battle site, which is walled off, and preserved as it existed in the 1860s, with only museums and battle-related attractions near the battlefield.
City Council is expected to be presented with an updated Alamo Plaza renovation project later this year.