Engineered Solutions

San Pedro I

5 February 2024

Unearthing the Past, Safeguarding the Future: Where Archaeology Meets Cybersecurity


Enriched with iconic landmarks like the Alamo and the Missions, San Antonio boasts a cityscape steeped in culture and history. As urban development in the downtown area progresses, archeological investigations become imperative to accurately identify and safeguard significant historic structures and artifacts. In the heart of this historical tapestry lies The University of Texas at San Antonio’s (UTSA) School of Data Science and National Security Collaboration Center, known as “San Pedro I.” It’s true – you’re never too far from Texas history in downtown San Antonio. In fact, you might be standing on top of it.


Pape-Dawson served as the civil engineer for this cutting-edge, six-story, 167,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility that symbolizes a new era in education, research, and innovation in Texas. However, prior to the initiation of design and construction, our Cultural Resources team embarked on a journey of historical discovery at the project site.


Once part of the homestead of José Antonio Navarro, one of three native signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence, the site underwent proactive trenching, construction monitoring, State Antiquities Landmark (SAL) testing, and subsequent data recovery efforts of portions of the site along Military Plaza or Plaza de Armas 1722. Collaborating closely with the archaeology and civil departments, the teams navigated the significant archaeological deposits within the proposed building footprint. Addressing space constraints and tie-ins to existing infrastructure, the archaeology team focused on mitigating Spanish Colonial to Republic of Texas deposits associated with Navarro and subsequent tenants.


Through mechanical excavation, hand-excavation of units, and scraping, over 54 archaeological features were unearthed, spanning from the Spanish Colonial period to the early twentieth century. Documented with drone imagery to capture high-resolution photographs of the site, Pape-Dawson created an orthomosaic illustration of the surfaces. Through construction monitoring in compliance with the Texas Antiquities Code, the project seamlessly advanced, overcoming construction challenges further increased by the site’s proximity to San Pedro Creek and the intricate design considerations for connectivity to public streets, bioretention stormwater facilities, and extension of underground utilities.
Beyond its historical resonance of its 250-year history, the San Pedro I site stands as a testament to resilience and evolution. Nestled alongside the revitalized San Pedro Creek, the building’s namesake, the facility represents the inaugural step in UTSA’s decade-long strategy to transform its Downtown Campus into a hub for cultivating highly skilled data science professionals, putting San Antonio on the map as a center for innovation and education.

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