The guiding principles for the design of Phil Hardberger Park as a cultivated wild are like a Texas two-step.
The natural history of the region inspires the respectful preservation of the centuries-old oaks that once dotted a nearly extinct ecosystem of sweeping grasslands. The first and foremost principle of the Master Plan is devoted to reclaiming a native landscape that personifies a genuine and wild Texas territory; first design step reintroduces the oak savanna while also ambitiously restoring the woodlands and brushland.
A contemporary interpretation of the cultural history of San Antonio beckons the cultivation of Phil Hardberger Park as an urban wilderness, a wild that literally grows out of the site’s history as a dairy farm now engulfed by urban development. The second principle of the Master Plan is committed to celebrating the cultural expression of an agrarian heritage; the next design step willfully carves out spaces and orchestrates systems taking cues from the patterns of historic mission acequias and cultivated fields. As an inverse of agriculture once taking resources of the land, the design ethic for Phil Hardberger Park gives back clean water and rich soil, vibrant plants and thriving animals; the Park becomes a healthy landscape for all of San Antonio.
The intent of the cultivated wild is to invite visitors from across the city to play, wandering through the restored oak woodlands and savanna and picnicking next to an acequia that functions as a water cleansing channel. The mission of the Master Plan envisions the Park as a living laboratory for learning how to care for the native Texas landscape and larger natural systems. Like all great parks, these activities are for all people of all ages to participate in and benefit from a rich and healthy landscape.
The design of the Master Plan aspires to the manifestation of a land ethic that fosters stewardship of both the Park and the larger environment. The way in which the Park is designed, and the choices that are associated with its built form, will demonstrate a resourcefulness of doing more with less and inviting the many individuals and groups to contribute to a Park that is ultimately theirs. The Master Plan strives to exemplify an ethic, an inventiveness, and a generosity that will make this Park a national model.