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Tobin Center for the Performing Arts

San Antonio, TX

Bexar County Performing Arts Center Foundation

May 2011 - August 2014

$112 million



The people of San Antonio entrusted a Zachry joint venture with one of the city’s most treasured landmarks when they awarded a design-assist contract to renovate and develop the historic Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. The center’s owners sought to update the antiquated Municipal Auditorium and position the venue to improve access to the adjacent River Walk, while preserving some of the old elements like the facade and entrance.

Zachry began work in 2011, with selective demolition to carefully demolish the old auditorium seating and stage areas while strategically saving the historic building facade for incorporation into the new facility. The completed structure has a 1,750 seat, state-of-the-art performance hall with enhanced acoustic design. The $10 million floor allows for the transformation of a raked stage to a flat floor in 22 minutes at the push of a button. Zachry also constructed a 250-seat theater and the outdoor, 600-seat River Walk Plaza, complete with a 30-foot screen to broadcast video of concerts inside to passersby.

The construction, which covered 153,000 square feet on six levels, presented a number of unique challenges. Foremost among them was the issue of integrating 85-year-old structures with new installations.

The Tobin Center’s open nature also heightened the need for precision, as seating and finished millwork was placed directly on the building’s structural decks. With limited workspace on-site in downtown San Antonio, the team had to operate on a tightly choreographed schedule and have materials delivered only just before they were needed.

In addition to the optimizable floor, all of the acoustics, interior and exterior lighting and coloring are adjustable, allowing the center’s managers to book 370 diverse events over 299 days in the 2014-2015 season, for a capacity use of 125 percent. The preserved facade is updated with LED lights that form a metallic “veil” overhead, perfectly encapsulating the harmony between the storied past and bright future of this now world-class venue.

Project Elements

  • 153K Square Feet Historic Renovation
  • 1,750 Seat New Performing Arts Hall
  • Challenging Downtown San Antonio Location
  • Enhanced Acoustic Design
  • Optimizable Flooring System, the First of its Kind in the Nation
  • Award Winning Project