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San Antonio Conservation Society Elects First Architect As President

The San Antonio Conservation Society has elected Sue Ann Pemberton to be their new president for the next year, the first architect to serve as the organization’s leader.

The San Antonio Conservation Society was founded in 1924 and is one of the oldest preservation groups in the country. Sue Ann Pemberton is its first president with professional experience in preservation in San Antonio and Texas.

Pemberton wants to work strategically to deal with common conservation issues before they become urgent, as happened recently with the Joske’s building, where developers proposed a 26-story hotel and time share structure that was given a thumbs down by preservationists.

"My goal is to try to find those projects early on and also to have a protocol that we can follow -- our own protocol -- to try and track down and basically bird-dog projects," she said.

Pemberton hopes to network with city staff who are aware of upcoming projects so brainstorming can occur earlier in the design process. She said an architect has a way of looking at projects that can serve preservation efforts in a different way:

"Architects are trained to be problem solvers. As I tell my students all the time, 'You’re going to be designing things where the problem hasn’t even been created yet.' For example, people who designed the first airports were in school when there were no airplanes. They hadn't been invented yet," she said.

Pemberton is a practitioner who has written design guidelines for the Lavaca neighborhood, and the cities of Blanco, San Marcos, Uvalde and Paris, Texas.

Eileen Pace is a veteran radio and print journalist with a long history of investigative and feature reporting in San Antonio and Houston, earning more than 50 awards for investigative reporting, documentaries, long-form series, features, sports stories, outstanding anchoring and best use of sound.