Yanaguana Garden is designed as an equitable space where all are welcomed, engaged, and challenged to play. (Billy Hustace Photography)

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Owners: Hemisfair Park Area Redevelopment Corporation, City of San Antonio
Designer: MIG Inc.
Additional team members: Joeris General Contractors, HDR Inc., Bender Wells Clark Design, CNG Engineering, Duende Design Architects, Intelligent Engineering Services, Oscar Alvarado, City of San Antonio Public Works, Ximenes & Associates, Overland Partners
Size: 4 acres (1.6 ha)
Opened: October 2015
Total cost: $9.47 million (excluding land acquisition)

Named for the river of “refreshing waters” along which the Payaya tribe built its seasonal villages, Yanaguana Garden at Hemisfair is a community gathering place in the heart of downtown San Antonio. It is the first implementation phase of the Hemisfair Park Area Redevelopment Master Plan and has hosted 2.7 million visitors since opening in October 2015.

Located on the former 1968 World’s Fair site, Yanaguana Garden treats visitors to rich and diverse experiences informed and inspired by the history, environment, and constantly evolving arts and culture of San Antonio. A trellis-covered central promenade connects a series of flexible outdoor spaces that accommodate and encourage a variety of programmed and impromptu activities from morning to night.

A key design goal was to highlight “play” as a universal language and create an equitable space that would welcome, engage, and challenge all children, families, and individuals—regardless of cultural heritage, socioeconomic status, age, or physical ability. As an economic catalyst, Yanaguana Garden contributed to a 182 percent increase in median property tax revenue in the surrounding census tracts from 2013 to 2017, compared with 8 percent for Bexar County as a whole.

Yanaguana Garden treats visitors to diverse play experiences. Click to zoom.

The splash pad system is designed to recycle and treat 4,000 gallons (15,000 liters) of water every 30 minutes. (Billy Hustace Photography)

Artful seating reflects local myths and legends. (Billy Hustace Photography)

Flexible spaces are provided for lawn games and events. (HPARC)

Children entertain each other and their families. (Billy Hustace Photography)

Families explore the sand area at night. (Billy Hustace Photography)