Pavestone Creates Custom Paver for Centro Plaza Transit Hub

80,000 square-feet of CityLock Pavers help connect natural landscape with modern design.

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Recently opened Centro Plaza, a $16 million multi-modal transit center for the VIA Metropolitan System of San Antonio, features an architectural design that celebrates the beauty of the natural landscape with a modern, illuminated twist. 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 to help bring the project vision of landscape architect Bender Wells Clark Design to life. The pavers, which also contributed to the sustainability requirements on the project, were custom manufactured specifically for Centro Plaza.

Larry Clark, Vice President of Bender Wells Clark Design directed the design of the hardscape and complex water conservation system, the structural soils providing a health root zone, and the tree bosque.  "We needed a good-looking paving material that would serve for both the permeable and impermeable areas of this downtown plaza. It was a challenge to find a unified paver that would cover the entire plaza, allowing rain water to pass through in some areas and not in others. Pavestone 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. It is hard for most people to tell the difference between them, which is exactly what we wanted.”

Natural and artificial light are projected across the 150,000 square-foot plaza to 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 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. Pavestone customized four inch by 16 inch plank CityLock pavers in a brown and beige color pallet to match the ripple stone associated with the Alazan Acequia. A permeable version of the paver, Eco-CityLock was also created to support the Centro Plaza underground storm water recycling initiative.

“Centro Plaza is environmentally conscious. The plaza includes a sustainable underground storm water storage tank. The water stored in this tank is used to irrigate the landscape and trees within the plaza and keeps on recycling and filtering itself,” says Mauricio Ramos, EIT, project manager.

The gravity-feed underground storage and distribution system captures excessive storm water 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. 

Gratr Landscapes, founded to bring the best service in landscaping to the Greater San Antonio area, overcame difficult weather conditions to install about 80,000 square-feet of Pavestone CityLock pavers at Centro Plaza on schedule. Ramos noted that 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.

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 Ramos.