San Antonio launches river barge design competition

Winning concepts will incorporate innovative new materials while remaining buildable and economically feasible.

October 28, 2015 |
San Antonio launches river barge design competition

San Antonio is redesigning its river barges. Photo: Mike Whaling/Creative Commons.

San Antonio’s 300th anniversary in 2018 has inspired the city to re-imagine its river barges.

The city is partnering with The American Institute of Architects, San Antonio Chapter (AIA San Antonio) to run a competition to design new sustainable river barges to be used on the San Antonio River. The competition will open Friday, Oct. 30 to local, national and international teams.

“The San Antonio River is an iconic community feature,” said Nicole Marrone, AIA San Antonio President. “Our chapter is honored to partner with the City of San Antonio on this project to transform the River Walk experience. Local architects applaud the City’s commitment to make the river barge a more sustainable, passenger-friendly experience for tourists and locals alike.”

The first phase of the competition is an open call for teams to submit a narrative explaining their concept along with detailed renderings. A nine-person jury will select three finalists who best design an economically-feasible electric fleet.

The three finalists will move on to the second phase and receive $7,500 for design development, which includes a 3D physical model, renderings, technical specifications, cost estimate, branding and material samples. The teams will also receive a $2,500 travel stipend to present their concept to the jury in San Antonio and participate in an open house for the community to view the designs. The top three teams will each receive a cash prize. More competition details and requirement are available here.

Upon selection of the winning design, the City will release a Request for Proposals (RFP) for manufacturing of the barges, purchase the fleet and lease to an operator. The City will issue a second RFP for operation and programming of the barge fleet.

“This innovative approach will relieve the financial burden of a potential operator having to secure the upfront capital to purchase the barge fleet,” said Mayor Ivy R. Taylor. “Not only will we be able to offer an outstanding transportation option, we will encourage more competition through the RFP process.”

The competition winner will be selected in February 2016 and both RFPs for manufacturing and operation of the fleet will be issued in March 2016. Registration for the competition will be available beginning Oct. 30 on the AIA San Antonio website.

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