Thursday, August 12, 2010
The Smith-Young Tower
I'm baffled. I'm baffled that millions of tourists visit San Antonio each year, many of them to look at and take thousands of pictures of a small, architecturally modest building in Alamo Plaza whose historical significance they don't entirely understand or even care about. I'm baffled that of those tourists, only a handful will ever spend any time looking at another building-- the Tower Life Building the Smith-Young Tower. Even fewer will devote a portion of their memory cards to documenting the neo-gothic facets of its flattened hexagon shape, its elaborate program of gargoyles, the sun glinting off its emerald roof. Fewer still will bother to learn the name of the building or its place in the history of skyscrapers. There are no restaurants or shops on the stretch of the Riverwalk below this building, and, unless you work there, no reasons to enter the lobby. It sits alone quietly at the far end of downtown away from the convention center and the mega-hotels and malls and wax museums and Segway tour operators, waiting for someone to draw it.