All that glitters

Showstopping new addition coming to historic downtown San Antonio venue

Showstopping addition coming to historic downtown San Antonio venue

Aztec theatre renovations
The new atrium would change the skyline in downtown San Antonio. Rendering courtesy of Overland Partners

The City of San Antonio's Historic and Design Review Commission has granted approval for an extraordinary addition to downtown. On January 17, the commission approved preliminary plans to add a sculptured glass atrium and terrace to the nearly century-old Aztec Theatre.

Designed by Overland Partners, the firm's founding principal Timothy Blonkvist told the Rivard Report that the inspiration was the Frank Gehry-designed Fondation Louis Vuitton building in Paris. Once built, the majestic structure will add a showstopping tourist attraction to the heart of downtown San Antonio.

The new atrium is part of a local developer's plan to renovate the 112,000-square-foot theater — which includes the four floors above the music venue — into a 55-room boutique hotel. Because of the Aztec's historic designation, any changes to the building must be submitted to and approved by the commission. 

The architectural plans include a glass structural canopy to sit over the terrace, and the creation of another outdoor space to connect the terrace to the north side of the building, providing an expansive view of the San Antonio River. 

Initially, the developer wanted to transform the former office space into multifamily condos, but that idea was scrapped in September 2017, citing an extensive tax burden levied against the historic building. "It’s really, really hard for us to make the numbers work when we have to pay taxes on the building like that," developer Samuel Panchevre told the San Antonio Express News at the time.

Redevelopment plans for the Aztec have been in the works since 2014 when it was purchased by the San Antonio-based Panchevre. In addition to the glass atrium and the redevelopment of the Aztec's rooftop, Panchevre has also teased opening a new restaurant in the space.