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Custom Paver Created For Centro Plaza Transit Hub
Pavers Help Connect Natural Landscape with Modern Design

By Chad Corley, Pavestone


At Centro Plaza, a multi-modal transit center in San Antonio, Texas, Gratr Landscapes installed all of the hardscapes, irrigation and landscaping. The 150,000 square foot center includes 80,000 square feet of non-permeable pavers as well as permeable pavers, which were custom made for the project by Pavestone.


Working between rainstorms, a team of 14 installed the paving. In the non-permeable areas around the trees, layers of sand, choking stone, gravel, structural soil, and smaller gravel were installed underneath the 4" x 16" plank pavers. In addition, a team of six worked on the irrigation system and another six worked on the landscaping. The project "took about 6 months," according to Gil Tapia, director of landscape development at Gratr Landscapes.

The recently opened Centro Plaza is a $16 million multi-modal transit center for the VIA Metropolitan System of San Antonio, Texas. In addition to incorporating lights, stainless steel, aluminum and glass into the new downtown transportation hub, CityLock and Eco-City Lock pavers from Pavestone were installed by Gratr Landscapes. The pavers, which also contributed to the sustainability requirements on the project, were custom manufactured specifically for Centro Plaza.

Natural and artificial lights across the 150,000-square-foot plaza generate modern color variations against the buildings, canopies and other metallic surfaces throughout the day. Extending this complex lighting array to the surrounding environment required the installation of 80,000 square feet of pavers that resembled the remains of the Alazan Acequia, a seven- to 14-foot deep irrigation system built in the late 19th century that ran through the plaza. The manufacturer customized 4" x 16" plank CityLock pavers in a brown and beige color pallet to match the ripple stone associated with the Alazan Acequia. These were installed under the canopied area. A permeable version of the paver, Eco-CityLock was created to support the Centro Plaza underground stormwater recycling initiative, and installed around the trees.


A brown and beige color palette hearkens back to the Alazan Acequia, an irrigation system from the late 1800s that once occupied the space where the plaza is now. CityLock and Eco-CityLock permeable pavers help meet the project's sustainability goals.


Beneath the paving of Centro Plaza, a storage tank can hold more than 20,000 gallons of water. Recirculation pumps installed by Gratr Landscapes flow the water back to irrigate the trees, using an estimated 50 to 80 percent less water than traditional irrigation.

Gratr Landscapes overcame difficult weather conditions to install the pavers at Centro Plaza on schedule, in about six months. A major challenge to construction was the heavy spring rains, which occurred while the team was working on the underground and paving phases of the project.

"We had a lot of rain and we were working in a hole that would fill up with water," said Gil Tapia, director of landscape development at Gratr Landscapes. "We had to pump water out of there. Other than the weather, it was a pretty straightforward project."

A gravity-fed underground storage and distribution system captures excessive stormwater that matriculates through the permeable pavers and structural soils in pipes that drain into a chamber, which can hold more than 20,000 gallons of water. A low-pressure, low-cost, low-maintenance and low-flow pump redistributes the stored water to irrigate the surrounding trees. The process is projected to save 50 to 80 percent more water than conventional irrigation. Larry Clark, Vice President of Bender Wells Clark Design, directed the design of the hardscape and complex water conservation system, the structural soils that provide a healthy root zone, and the tree bosque. "It was a challenge to find a unified paver that would cover the entire plaza, allowing rainwater to pass through in some areas and not in others. The manufacturer worked with us to develop a paver system that served both conditions. One paver lets water seep into the structural soils and sand layers below, while the other is a more conventional concrete paver, but they look alike," said Clark.

Centro Plaza is the first of three phases in a master plan to provide public transportation from downtown San Antonio to downtown Austin via commuter rail. It includes illuminated terminal, historic building renovation, a tower, an open landscape area, two semi-circle canopies, and a Primo canopy.

"The plaza and tower illumination is definitely one of a kind with almost every element of the project being illuminated. The sophisticated wireless lighting system allows the plaza to change colors based on an astronomical clock and to communicate with the surrounding illuminated buildings, such as the Children's Hospital," according to Mauricio Ramos, EIT, project manager.

As seen in LC/DBM magazine, April 2017.

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January 20, 2019, 6:27 pm PST

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