Apr 3, 2024 - News

UTSA moves to demolish Institute of Texan Cultures building

A multi-level square, stone buidling.

The 1960s building will soon be demolished. Photo: Courtesy of UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures

The University of Texas at San Antonio will demolish the Texas Pavilion, the home of the Institute of Texan Cultures museum and one of the last remaining structures built for the 1968 World's Fair.

Why it matters: After years of deliberation, the Wednesday decision gives UTSA the chance to update the museum to better suit its needs and raises speculation about the potential for the land to house the next Spurs arena.

Catch up quick: Rumors about the Spurs relocating their home court to downtown have been circulating for years, gaining traction with the drafting of star player Victor Wembanyama and further intensifying in February when the university's board of regents approved a plan to sell or lease the property to the City of San Antonio.

State of play: The museum will temporarily relocate to the first floor of Frost Tower for the next five years while a permanent facility is constructed either at 1123 Navarro Street near the Alamo or on UTSA's Southwest Campus, adjacent to downtown.

  • The museum at the Texas Pavilion will close in May and reopen on the first floor of Frost Tower in early 2025.
  • The university secured 25,000 square feet of off-site climate-controlled storage space for archives.
  • Building a new museum will cost $103.5 million, UTSA president Taylor Eighmy told the Express-News.

Flashback: Trailblazing Mexican-American architect William "Willie" M. Peña helped design the museum as a homage to Mesoamerican temples. The University of Texas system assumed control of the building in 1969.

  • It's since hosted events like the Texas Folklife Festival and has been a centerpiece in teaching the history of the state and its people.
  • The facility has been nominated and is eligible for historic designations, but even if it had a National Register of Historic Places listing, that's not a safeguard from demolition.

The intrigue: City spokesperson Laura Mayes told Axios in February that the approval is not a contract to purchase the land, emphasizing that a decision has not yet been made.

What's next: UTSA will issue a request for proposals to raze the building so it can move forward with plans to redevelop the land.

  • The city still has first dibs on the nearly 14 acres.

What they're saying: The decision ensures the museum continues to be an "engaging experience" for the next generation of visitors, Eighmy said in a statement.

  • "The ITC museum is an important part of San Antonio's history and means so much to our community," UTSA chief development officer Veronica Salazar said.

What we're watching: How the university will pay tribute to the Texas Pavilion in its future home.

  • UTSA officials told the Express-News they are exploring ways to re-create the beloved "Faces and Places of Texas" dome show that generations of San Antonians remember watching.
A conceptual rendering showing a dome-like structure hanging over an escalator.
Conceptual rendering of a new museum with the "Faces and Places of Texas" video showing. Photo: Courtesy of UTSA
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