Third Spaces and the Residential Redux in San Antonio, Texas

Date
2017
Authors
Rodriguez, Andrea (Andi)
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Abstract

San Antonio is experiencing a 'residential redux’ within its urban core due to innovative development tools, such as city-supported development incentives and public/private investment in public spaces. This thoughtful public space development can act as a catalyst of the urban core and is presented here as a new concept, “Third Space”. Designed as public areas of respite and communal gathering, Third Spaces reside adjacent to privately-owned development and increase the appetite for urban core investment and encourage supporting uses such as retail and offices.

Referencing Ray Oldenburg’s concept, 'Third Place’ in his 1999 book, “The Great Good Place”, his idea states that urban areas need spots where people aren’t living, where they aren’t working – simply a place to gather – a Third Place. His examples include coffee shops, pubs, and bookstores; however, these places are privately owned. Taking this idea further, it merged with those of urban sociologist William (Holly) Whyte’s research on way people use public space, and the humanization of public space conceptualization. This led to the Third Space theory – thoughtfully designed public spaces which encourage community - and its impact on residential investment.

Third Spaces influence successful development because of their authentically public nature, by strengthening the urban social fabric and enhancing supporting uses. Offering a detailed case study of Hemisfair as a Third Space example, the research analyzes the idea that residential development projects underway are made possible by economically viable and thoughtfully designed public space, i.e. a Third Space.

San Antonio is a city on the verge of an urban residential renaissance. The theory research includes planning literature, history, current policies and incentives and conversations with experts, examining San Antonio’s center city and its journey toward reinvigoration.

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Department
Architecture