Neisner Building/ Towneplace Suites, San Antonio, Texas, United States
Ignacio Aliaga & 3D/I

Neisner Building /Towneplace Suites

The Neisner’s general merchandise store opened at 409 E. Houston, San Antonio, Texas, in 1947, it was a four story, steel frame building with a full basement. Designed by San Antonio architect Robert M. Ayres (1898-1977) in a modified Art Moderne or “Streamline” Style, the building was a trapezoid shaped building with a flat roof. The building is located at the intersection of Broadway and Houston Streets, with its primary entrance at the corner. Neisner Brothers was a “five cent to one dollar” chain of stores.

The trapezoidal shape of the building’s lot lends itself to Ayres’ design solution. He used the Streamline style to round the building’s corner in a way so typical of this short-lived style, using it as the main store entrance and the focal point of the building. At street level, the façades are clad in Texas red granite.

The upper floors are faced with gray granite and stone. As expected of the “Streamline” style, the façade is nearly devoid of ornamentation. Shading the sidewalks is a wide awning that runs the entire length of the building. It is edged with a bronze strip. Above and set flush into the gray granite are seven large, tall and rectangular windows that contained opaque, rippled glazing. The fenestration of the facade was a very dominant characteristic for this building because of their size, rising several stories. A ribbon band of granite runs around each window frame. The building has no decorative parapet, just a low relief; horizontal banding.

The store lasted until 1968. Since then several tenants modified and tried different uses but none prospered. Eventually in 2004 the interior was completely gutted down to the steel beams with plans for a condominium conversion. Those plans were not realized. Since then the building was vacant. In 2008 Baywood Hotels bought the building with the intention of adapting the building into a new hotel.

Baywood contacted 3D/International and started working with Architect Ignacio Aliaga. To make the project economically feasible the central area of the building was “carved” out creating a courtyard, therefore allowing a larger number of rooms per floor. In this courtyard is the hotel swimming pool with the original structural steel above.

On the first floor is hotel reception and lobby. A dramatic glass staircase connects to the basement level were most of the public activities are located.
Two additional floors were integrated to the structure. Aliaga respected the original building design, so for this he created a new pattern making a clear difference between old and new.

To avoid any conflict with the existing large vertical windows facing the streets the rooms were altered and a metal screen was designed to hide the air conditioning units.

The hotel opened in May 2010 and received several local awards.

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