At the Heart of the Heart of San Antonio Hemisfair   |   San Antonio, Texas

In 1968, San Antonio stepped onto the world stage with HemisFair ’68, a World’s Fair-style celebration for its 250th birthday. Fifty years later, the epicenter of Hemisfair is a park amid rebirth, a long underutilized space gaining new relevance as the city begins its 300th year. Amid a flurry of redevelopment in the heart of downtown, Overland’s master plan and mixed-use development for Hemisfair is an exercise in humble leadership , honoring the city’s history, and staking a rallying point for its future.
Three Centuries

San Antonio began with water and land. The Spanish missions and their supporting agricultural communities grew in a string along the San Antonio river, developing this natural gift into a complex network of life-giving acequias. From the land, they took limestone to build places of worship. The iconic results—arches, belfries, and friezes—are imprinted on the identity of San Antonio to this day.

Decade of Downtown
2018, the city’s tricentennial year, also marks the twilight of the “decade of downtown,” a civic movement to revitalize downtown, making it an economic driver for San Antonio’s future. Infill, housing, and modernization needs bumped into historic preservation concerns, highlighting the need for strong leadership and a vision to honor the history but also the aspirations of San Antonio—the cities roots and wings. Nowhere was this more vital than Hemisfair, a beloved cultural relic, ripe with civic and economic potential.
At the Corner of Main and Main

Sited at the corner of two of San Antonio’s most traveled downtown arteries—Alamo Street and César Chávez—Hemisfair has no shortage of stakeholders. Keeping community interests at the forefront, it was up to Overland, under the leadership of principal in charge Robert Shemwell, to keep the community function of the park front and center while navigating the many systemic challenges involved.The primary goal was that the buildings—a 200-room hotel, a mixed-use office building, a parking garage, and an urban market—knit seamlessly to the hem of the park, creating inviting permeable edges. Hotel rooms, meeting spaces, and restaurants and shops within the buildings will offer views of the surrounding park and historic downtown features adjacent to the site.

With redevelopment happening on all sides, Overland seized the opportunity to reduce redundancies and modernize systems with an eye toward sustainability. One of the city’s historic acequias runs through the site, triggering complex preservation priorities as well. By bringing together these multiple stakeholders and goals, Overland proved that while such collaboration and harmonizing can be intimidating, the results are invaluable.