La Villita Assembly Building- Over 50 Years of Celebrating San Antonio


In 1958, G.W. Mitchell Contractors began construction on one of the most uniquely designed buildings in San Antonio, La Villita Assembly Building. At the time in San Antonio, there was a desperate need for a convention and events facility. The City Public Service board, who owned the site, wanted a building design that would complement the style of the restoration of adjacent La Villita, a small Mexican village of the 1700s. Designed by the renowned architects, O’Neil Ford & Associates , this two-level, 25,000 square foot circular building with an inverted dome roof is simple in detail yet characterized by its circular shape, color and texture. One of the most distinguishing features of the building is the roof, suspended on 200 Bethlehem steel strand assemblies attached to an outer ring, 132 feet in diameter, and a 40-foot inner ring. One of the first in the nation and the first of its kind in Texas, this type of roof construction eliminates the need for any columns allowing unobstructed views to all parts of the hall. When viewed from the air, the suspension-type roof gives the facade of a circular shaped arena. The building’s circular design was chosen to resemble the bull ring, so typical of historical Mexican villages. To complete the historic ties, six large emblems representing the seals of the six nations whose flags flew over Texas are displayed on the outside of the building. The designs of these emblems were hand crafted in ceramics by Lynn Ford, brother of the architect. The cost for G.W. Mitchell to build the assembly building in 1958 was $654,740. La Villita Assembly Building opened its doors to the public in May of 1959 bringing the City of San Antonio together by serving as the home of thousands of civic and nonprofit events over the past 55 years.