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Photo: Special Collections / El Paso Library

Before & After: New Public and Private Buildings Shine in Sun City

El Paso, guardian of a natural pass through a rugged mountainous region, was a sleepy gathering of adobe huts until the railroads arrived in the 1880s.

By the dawn of the new century the booming town was the dominant commercial center of the American Southwest.

In the 21st century, El Paso, nicknamed “The Sun City” for its more than 350 cloudless days a year, is once again sparkling with new construction, often inspired by the Spanish missions that were emulated in the city’s earliest architecture.

Come along with us to explore El Paso’s evolving streetscape, from 2007 to 2015.

Simply drag the arrow bar back-and-forth to view the old and the new images.

1. United States Federal Courthouse, Downtown

Year built: 2010

Architect Antoine Predock’s modernistic design for the Federal Courthouse takes its cues from the rugged mountain passes carved by the Rio Grande River.

The mass of the building is broken into two structures, each crafted from one of the region’s signature minerals – copper and Texas Limestone. The open massing frames Mount Franklin in the background.

2. El Paso Children’s Hospital, East-Central

Year built: 2011

Buoyed by the passing of a $120 million bond issue, ground was broken on the soaring El Paso Children’s Hospital in February of 2009. At the time El Paso was the largest city in the United States without a separately licensed facility dedicated to children; today, the hospital is the largest provider of pediatric services in West Texas.

3. Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) East-Central

Year built: 2009

The Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso has operated as a branch of the Lubbock-based university, 350 miles away, since 1969. In 2009 TTUHSC became the first four-year medical school on the Mexico-United States border and set up shop in a state-of-the-art, Spanish Renaissance-flavored teaching and training center.

4. 1207 Los Angeles Drive, Sunset Heights

Year built: 2012

The century-old subdivision of Sunset Heights has enjoyed a flurry of infill activity in the 21st century. Here, new El Paso apartments boasting Craftsman design influences with exaggerated brick pillars and exposed beams at the low-slung roofline, were raised in 2012.

5. Southwest University Park, Downtown

Year built: 2014

Minor League baseball in El Paso traces its roots back to the Arizona State League in 1930. The current franchise, the Chihuahuas, are the Triple-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres. The little dogs moved into their new $72 million home at Southwest University Park on April 28, 2014, losing that first game in extra innings to Fresno, 2-1.

6. United Bank of Paso Del Norte, Downtown

Year built: 2013

A $12 million facelift gave the United Bank of Paso Del Norte City a Spanish Colonial vibe – complete with bell tower – that echoes the work of celebrated early 20th century El Paso architect Henry Charles Trost. The original bank building was erected in 1975.

7. Cinemark Theater, Far East El Paso

Year built: 2013

The far East Side of El Paso has been booming in the past decade and Cinemark hustled to raise this 14-screen, all-digital theater with ceiling-to-floor screens in just seven months.

8. Office building on Mesa Street, West-Central

Year built: 2013

The facade of this three-story office building at 906 N. Mesa Street calls to mind the commercial architecture of the Old West frontier. It replaced an historic structure from 1917 attributed to Henry Trost – one of more than 600 he designed in El Paso – that went up in flames and was razed in 2011.

9. The Venue At Montecillo, Mesa Hills

Year built: 2013

The eclectic architecture of this apartment complex blends Spanish Mission, Italianate and Queen Anne design elements. The Monticello, highlighted by stunning mountain views, is part of a $777 million urban community that features 300 acres of modern living units and an entertainment district bursting with shopping, spas, and nightlife.

10. Sierra Providence Eastside Hospital, East El Paso

Year built: 2008

The Providence Hospital has been an integral part of the El Paso community since 1902. Now El Pasoans can receive care at dozens of locations; the Sierra Providence Eastside Hospital admitted the first patients to its award-winning building in 2008.

11. North Hills Crossing Center, North Hills

Year built: 2015

El Paso’s recent vitality spike has led River Oaks Properties to spearhead $200 million of retail development in the coming years and its first salvo landed with the opening of the North Hills Crossing power center. With nearly a quarter-million square feet of floor space North Hills is the biggest injection into the Sun City consumer market in decades.

Author:  Ama Otet –  RENTCafé

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