In March 2014, a broad-based local steering committee submitted a formal application for a Regional and Urban Design Assistance Team (R/UDAT) project to the American Institute of Architects. As the project application stated, “Corpus Christi and the surrounding bay area communities are poised for a bright future. Removal of the existing bridge will provide an unprecedented opportunity to connect our city’s urban core of entertainment, sports, history, and culture. It is the desire of the Steering Committee to bring an AIA Regional/Urban Design Assistance Team to town to help us create this new vision.”
In May, an initial visit was conducted by the team leader and AIA staff to meet key stakeholders, refine the scope of work, and determine needed expertise for the R/UDAT team. In the following months, a national team of experts was recruited from around the country, and the local steering committee conducted community engagement to promote the project. The community process took place from August 14-18, 2014. The process was designed with a multi-faceted format and included the following elements:
A comprehensive tour of the project area and surrounding community, led by local partners, including a bus tour and site visits. Some team members participated in a bike tour of the area as well.
A series of key stakeholder interviews, small group meetings, and focus groups.
A public workshop involving approximately 80 residents, which collected input on community assets, identity, and aspirations for the future.
A three-day design studio with local professionals, planners and partner organizations.
The following report provides a narrative summary of the Corpus Christi R/UDAT project, including a series of key recommendations the community can prioritize moving forward to achieve its aspirations for North Beach, the SEA District, the adjacent neighborhoods, the historic downtown, and the surrounding area. The impetus for the project was the ongoing work by the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) on the Harbor Bridge project. The project includes the replacement of the Harbor Bridge and the reconstruction of portions of US181, I-37, and the Crosstown Expressway in a new alignment.
The American Institute of Architects has a 47-year history of public service work. The AIA’s Center for Communities by Design has conducted design assistance projects across the country. Through these public service programs, over 1,000 professionals from more than 30 disciplines have provided millions of dollars in professional pro bono services to more than 200 communities across the country, engaging thousands of participants in community driven planning processes. Its projects have led to some of the most recognizable places in America, such as San Francisco’s Embarcadero, Portland’s Pearl District, and the Santa Fe Railyard Park.