Contacts
 



Keyword Site Search







Yanaguana Garden: Viewed as the First Step toward Revitalization of Hemisfair
Landscape Architecture by MIG, Inc., Berkeley, Calif. By Michael Miyamoto | LASN


image

Clients and stakeholders alike are hopeful Yanaguana Garden, which opened in October 2015, would ultimately become a catalyst for the redevelopment of Hemisfair, the site of the 1968 World's Fair in the heart of downtown San Antonio. The city of San Antonio, residents and business owners have been working cooperatively since at least 2010 to come up with an approach to revitalize the neighborhood. City and Hemisfair Park Area Redevelopment Corporation (HPARC) leaders also wanted an active, exciting outdoor play and recreation experience for kids and adults, a true family-oriented venue. MIG, Inc., of Berkeley, Calif., was the lead landscape designer for this project. This artist's rendering of the Yanaguana Garden offers a bird-eye view of the park.
Photo: MIG/Markus Lui


Designing Yanaguana Garden in the south-central Texas city of San Antonio wasn't without its share of potential pitfalls. But MIG Inc., Berkeley, Calif., which headed the landscape architecture team for this sizable project, came through with flying colors, and the community responded warmly to the park when it opened last year.

image

The play area contains Boomerang and Dizygotic net climbers, Spia Duo disc swings, and a Mini-Apollo spinner. Landscape Structures made the swing set. In the background is the Tower of the Americas, one of the featured attractions at Hemisfair '68. At 622 feet in height, it is also called the Hemisfair Tower.
Photo: Hemisfair Park Area Redevelopment Corporation (HPARC), San Antonio, Texas


MIG had two clients: the city of San Antonio and the Hemisfair Park Area Redevelopment Corporation (HPARC). Then there are a slew of others who had -- and continue to have -- a vested interest in the success of the project.

"MIG had to make sure that all stakeholders' goals were met," said Susan Goltsman, founding principal of MIG. "To accomplish a combined vision, everyone had to work together and meld the range of ideas and expectations into a budget that was not as large as all the ideas and needs for this 4.1-acre piece of land."

image

Why is the park named Yanaguna? The Payaya Indians were the original indigenous converts at the 1718 establishment of the Alamo Mission in San Antonio. Yanaguana was what the Payaya Indians called their village, situated in what later became the city of San Antonio. The Payayas also referred to the San Antonio River as Yanaguana. According to Payaya folklore, a blue panther chased an anhinga bird through the sky, and the elegant bird plunged to the earth and created a "blue hole," a spot that became the source of water for the San Antonio River. The story of Yanaguana is told in the tile seat wall created by artist Oscar Alvarado.
Photo: MIG, Inc., Berkeley, Calif.


The clients and stakeholders alike are hopeful Yanaguana Garden will ultimately become a catalyst for the redevelopment of Hemisfair, the site of the 1968 World's Fair in the heart of downtown San Antonio. The city of San Antonio, HPARC and residents and business owners have been working cooperatively since at least 2010 to come up with an approach to revitalize their neighborhood. City and HPARC leaders also wanted an active, exciting outdoor play and recreation experience for kids and adults, a true family-oriented venue.

image

Colored glass dots in a variety of sizes give the blue panther of historic Payaya legend his sparkling coat. Orange and green glazed tiles create the friendly face that attracts both children and adults.
Photo: MIG, Inc., Berkeley, Calif.


Another potential roadblock concerned shade -- or the lack of it. Mature trees had to be transplanted to the Hemisfair, and of course, they had to be kept alive. Record-setting rainfall also resulted in three months of lost construction time. Yanaguana Garden has drawn rave reviews, perhaps because it has a little something for everyone. It combines art, history and the cultural and social heritage of San Antonio with a fun recreational setting for people of all ages. At the same time, much of the park was designed with sustainability in mind. The mission of HPARC is to expand and improve the existing Hemisfair, and Yanaguana Garden is just the first phase of Hemisfair's planned redevelopment program.

image

A children's run, speeches by city officials and other activities highlighted the grand opening of Yanaguana Garden at the Hemisfair.
Photo: Hemisfair Park Area Redevelopment Corporation (HPARC), San Antonio, Texas


"HPARC's goal is to create a spectacular public space in the heart of San Antonio, featuring courtyards, green space, art and cultural amenities, combined with a mixture of vibrant residential and commercial uses," the organization's website says. "The plan for Hemisfair will mature the city center asset into a space filled with visitors, excitement and functionality."

Here is one San Antonio media account of the grand opening on Oct. 2, 2015: "A new playground and public art display at Hemisfair Park opens this weekend, where guests can expect lots of climbing, life-size chess boards and beautiful displays of public art. The Yanaguana Garden, a playground environment for all ages and ability levels, is just a minor part of the overall 37 acres worth of new development coming to the Hemisfair Park area."

image

This Boomerang climber sits on colored synthetic safety surfacing with a winding river pattern, all of it surrounded by existing mature oaks and cedar elms. A river pattern is reminiscent of the San Antonio River, or what the Payaya Indians called the Yanaguana.
Photo: MIG, Inc. Berkeley, Calif.


San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor, Councilman Roberto Trevino and City Manager Sheryl Sculley all spoke at the grand opening, and hundreds of children participated in a ribbon run to mark the special occasion. An 11-member board of directors governs HPARC, and its responsibilities include acquiring property, planning, developing, constructing, managing, maintaining and financing projects at the Hemisfair site.

image

Mosaic glass insets by artist Oscar Alvarado, a Vortex Aquatic Structures water wall and limestone seat walls has made the splash pad a hit with children.
Photo: Hemisfair Park Area Redevelopment Corporation (HPARC), San Antonio, Texas


Wondering what Yanaguana means or why this name was chosen? The Payaya Indians were the original indigenous converts at the 1718 establishment of the Alamo Mission in San Antonio. Yanaguana was what the Payaya Indians called their village, situated in what later became the city of San Antonio. The Payayas also referred to the San Antonio River as Yanaguana.

For several years, the city of San Antonio contracted with Yanaguana Cruises Inc. for an exclusive monopoly to operate tour barges on a part of the river. The National Park Service also has a designated "Yanaguana Trail" that runs along the river at Mission San Juan Capistrano.

image

The promenade leads to the central square, where Alex Rubio's "Yanaguana" mural brightens the custom restroom building. The promenade also features large-scale colored checkerboards in the pavement and native limestone seat walls. Lumascape manufactured some of the lighting fixtures for Yanaguana Garden. Victor Stanley manufactured the benches.
Photo: Hemisfair Park Area Redevelopment Corporation (HPARC), San Antonio, Texas


A Payaya Indian myth is a unifying theme at Yanaguana Garden, and their story is told in the mosaic tile benches, murals, animal sculptures and ground surfaces found at the park. "It connects the people of San Antonio with the rich history of their home," Goltsman said, "and more importantly, to each other."

Native American folklore has it that a blue panther chased an anhinga bird through the sky. The elegant bird plunged to the earth and created a "blue hole," a spot that became the source of water for the San Antonio River. The anhinga, sometimes called a snakebird, darter, American darter, or water turkey, is a water bird of the warmer parts of the Americas. The word anhinga comes from the Brazilian Tupi language and means devil bird or snake bird.

Key design elements at Yanaguana Garden include a mosaic sculpture titled PanterAzul, based on the legendary blue panther, and a wellspring and winding river mosaic seat wall with a sculpture of the anhinga bird. Artist Oscar Alvarado completed both of these works of art.

image

This custom playhouse, a place for social and imaginative play, was made from western red cedar. The colored pathway ends at a deep blue sphere, which symbolically represents the spot where the anhinga bird fell and created the blue hole that later became the river's source.
Photo: MIG, Inc., Berkeley, Calif.


Other features at Yanaguana Garden serve to remind locals of some of San Antonio's best-known attributes, including the Hemisfair, the city's famous San Antonio River, the historic San Antonio Springs (also known as the Blue Hole), and the acequias from early settlement times. Many years ago, San Antonio had seven acequias, or gravity-flow ditches, five dams and an aqueduct comprising a waterway network of some 15 miles. The design team had to respect the historic nature of the land and ensure that any old acequia or native artifacts, if uncovered, during construction were preserved and protected.

Yanaguana Garden also features a winding promenade with vine-covered pergola, and a surface pattern that flows through the site to connect to the famed San Antonio River. Another challenge for MIG was growing vines for the pergola early, so it would be ready for the park when it opened. Other attractions include a cascading splash pad with terraced limestone ledges and more seat walls; custom mosaic glass patterns; and a central square with colorful checkerboard patterns that can be used for games or as a colorful dance floor for special events. In addition, a one-of-a-kind mural entitled "Yanaguana," done by artist Alex Rubio, is displayed in one prominent spot in the park. There is even an outdoor theater and with a dedicated seating area.

Another potential obstacle was coordinating the schedule of the contractor with that of the local artists who completed the intricate works of mosaic tile art. For them to be successful, the artists had to do their work at just the right temperature and other factors had to be controlled.

Surrounding Yanaguana are restaurants, an ice cream parlor, a future beer garden and an intimate music venue with streets that meander into the park and extend to other parts of the Hemisfair site. Next year, the first five-story apartment complex will be built in Hemisfair, and in a few years another park site will be built to serve as an entryway from the downtown district into Hemisfair.

"Today, like when the anhinga bird flew into a blue hole bringing life to the region and creating the San Antonio River, Yanaguana Garden is bringing the community together to play, live and work in the Hemisfair neighborhood," Goltsman said.

Project Team
Clients: Hemisfair Park Redevelopment Corp.; City of San Antonio Transportation and Capital Improvements Department
Lead designer: MIG, Inc., Berkeley, Calif.
Landscape planting: Bender Wells Clark Design
Mechanical and electrical engineering: CNG Engineering, PLLC
Architects: Duende Design Architects, Inc.
Pergola design: Overland Partnership
Civil engineering: HDR, Inc.
Structural engineering: Intelligent Engineering Services
Artist: Oscar Alvarado
General contractor: JOERIS General Contractors
Partnering session: Ximenes & Associates, Inc.

Vendors
Lighting: Lumascape
Swings: Landscape Structures
Splash pad water wall: Vortex Aquatic Structures
Custom precast spheres: Quickcrete Products Corp.
Benches: Victor Stanley
Paving: Pavestone Company
Irrigation: Netafim






Comment Form is loading comments...

Related Stories




November 19, 2019, 11:40 pm PDT

Website problems, report a bug.
Copyright © 2019 Landscape Communications Inc.
Privacy Policy