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Posted on: November 2, 2021

Planning Commission recognizes island projects for annual design awards

The Galveston Planning Commission recently recognized several notable island projects during the third annual Planning and Design Awards. The list of awardees includes projects such as the Abe and Annie Seibel Student Residences for Galveston College, the Juneteenth mural downtown, and the restoration of St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica.  

The Galveston Planning Commission initiated the Planning and Design Awards in 2019 as a way to celebrate projects that contribute to a better quality of life in our community and serve as models to learn from and emulate. In deciding the award winners, the Planning Commission considered the impact of the project on the community, as well as its innovativeness and ability to serve as a model for other developments, among other criteria.  The awards were presented during the October City Council meeting for each category. 

The City of Galveston congratulates each of the award winners and thanks them for their contribution to the island’s community and architecture. 

2021 Planning & Design Award Recipients 

Beautification – “Absolute Equality” Juneteenth Mural 

Titled “Absolute Equality”, the mural was conceived by the Juneteenth Legacy Project and commemorates the date some of the last enslaved people in the Confederacy became free — two-and-a-half years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Public artist Reginald C. Adams and his creative team painted the 5,000-square foot mural in less than a month. The mural overlooks the site of the Union soldiers’ headquarters and where General Order No. 3 was issued. The award was presented to the Juneteenth Legacy Project, Mitchell Historic Properties, Reginald Adams LLC, and Solel International. 

Development- Abe and Annie Seibel Student Residences 

A 13-year dream came true in August 2020 for Galveston College President Myles Shelton and the Galveston Community College District Board of Regents with the opening of the Abe and Annie Seibel Foundation Student Residences, a seven-unit student housing complex located at the corner of Avenue R and 39th Street designed to resemble the historically significant shotgun homes of our island community. The award was presented to the Galveston College District Board of Regents, Galveston College Foundation Board of Directors, Abe and Annie Seibel Foundation Board of Trustees, and Creole Design, Sullivan Brothers Builders.

Environmental – Turtles About Town 

The mission of Turtles About Town is to bring together art, awareness, and advocacy. Turtles About Town is a community art project showcasing the City of Galveston and the conservation efforts of Turtle Island Restoration Network to protect endangered sea turtles on the upper Texas coast. The award was presented to Turtle Island Restoration Network and Clay Cup Studio. 

Historic Preservation – Exterior Restoration of St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica 

The exterior restoration of St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica was completed in December of 2020. The church dates back to May 4, 1847 when Pope Pius IX established St. Mary’s Cathedral the mother church of the newly established diocese of Galveston. On August 2, 1979, Pope John Paul II made St. Mary’s a minor basilica in recognition of its historical importance. St. Mary’s is commonly referred to the Mother Church of Texas. The award was presented to the Diocese of Galveston-Houston, Zero/Six Consulting, LLC, and Coltzer Company, LLC.

Participation – Seawall Interpretative Trail (SIT) 

A project beautifying 70 Galveston Seawall benches into educational works of art from 6th to 61st Street. The topics include ocean tides, sea turtle migration, marine mammals and birds, major ecosystems of the Texas coast, construction of the Seawall, the 1900 Storm, and more. The award was presented to Artist Boat; Barry Goodman and John Carrara, Goodman Corporation; Alicia Cahill, Kitchen Chick and the Galveston Island Chicken Shack Strut; Susan Jablon, Susan Jablon Mosaic; Mary Doyle Glover, Harris County Department of Education, ACE; Gene Fissler and Breck Sacra, NRG Retail and Generation; Galveston County Commissioners; City of Galveston; and Martha Terrill, Artist and Committee Chair.

Private Investment – ANICO Parking Garage and Skybridge. 

Completed in 2021, the new parking garage and sky bridge serves the employees of the American National Insurance Company. The parking garage is the first major structured parking constructed in the downtown area since the completion of the Transit Terminal. The project also included improved landscaping in the 20th Street median. The award was presented to American National Insurance Company; David Cooper, Gilbane Building Company - General Contractor/Project Manager; and Gary Altergott, Huitt-Zollars – Architect. 

Public Investment – Fire Station #1 

Opened in August 2019, Fire Station 1 is a well-designed building, intended to match the architecture of the historic downtown area. The new station is a top-of-the-art facility, and offers the necessary indoor storage space for first responders and their equipment so it is protected from the island's climate. The Fire Station replaces the City Hall Annex, which has since been demolished. The award was presented to the City of Galveston.

Redevelopment – Restoration of Star State Company No. 3 Fire Station 

Phased Restoration Completed in 2021. Constructed in 1903 and operated as a fire station until it was decommissioned in the 1960s. In 1959, this station became the first in the city to be integrated. The work to date includes bracing and stabilization of the front façade, construction of a steel structural frame in original footprint, and construction of brick veneer walls and window openings. The award was presented to the Galveston Historical Foundation, Right Choice, LLC (contractor), and David Watson, Architect. 

Inspiration Award – 1019 53rd Street 

The beautification of a former transmission shop and expansion of local small businesses was the inspiration for the establishment of the Planning Commission Awards. Former Planning Commissioner Bruce Reinhart, after seeing this transformation, suggested that the Planning Commission find a way to recognize projects that better Galveston. The award was presented to Bassett Vaughn Investment Group Inc, and Brax Easterwood, AIA, Easterwood Architects Studio. 

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