ART
ARCHITECTURE
& HISTORY
in the Public Realm
International Center
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International Center

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The renovation of San Antonio’s downtown library into a center for trade, tourism and civic functions provides a unique community asset: a place that connects people to their city and to one another. The 1972 library, an opaque brick box, occupied a pivotal part of the Riverwalk, with the river on two sides, so when the city built a new library, it converted the old building into offices for San Antonio’s International Trade Commission and Convention & Visitors Bureau. The library has been transformed by linking the river to the street, connecting the oldest historic plaza to downtown’s business district. A pedestrian street cuts through the building, past an atrium that vertically links the street to the International Conference Center, which now serves as San Antonio’s living room. On the Riverwalk side of the building, the eclectic, back-alley character of the historic river is emulated, weaving balconies, terraces, and porches into the exposed structural frame, while the great civic room inside glows at night, like a beacon. The International Center proves that well-designed buildings can be urban magnets, drawing a community together and fostering human contact.