For all the talk of “complete streets,” ADA-accessible public buildings and sidewalks are still more aspiration than reality in many cities. In March, the city of San Antonio took a small step toward accessibility with a contest to redesign City Hall access.
On Wednesday, the city announced the winner of that contest: Beaty Palmer Architects, My San Antonio reports. The firm’s design features sloping ramps that cut across a lawn in front of the historic building to meet up with the top of a steep staircase, while still leaving enough space in the plaza for gatherings such as protests or demonstrations.
The firm received a check for $20,000 from Gordon Hartman, of the Hartman foundation. While the city has not drawn up a detailed cost estimate, construction is expected to be around $3 million. Hartman, at least, is confident that it would get built.
“Next year at this time, we will see construction here to make City Hall accessible to all,” he told My San Antonio.
As Kens5 reported in March, City Hall is ADA accessible — but only technically. A wheelchair ramp lies at the back of the building. The ramp takes people to the basement. There, someone needs to open the door. Then they have to enter an elevator to go up to the main floor.
“It’s dehumanizing for people to suffer such a loss of dignity,” City Councilman Roberto Treviño says. “City Hall should allow all residents and visitors equal access to the front door of City Hall.”
Rachel Dovey is an award-winning freelance writer and former USC Annenberg fellow living at the northern tip of California’s Bay Area. She writes about infrastructure, water and climate change and has been published by Bust, Wired, Paste, SF Weekly, the East Bay Express and the North Bay Bohemian.