Rendering courtesy Snøhetta
Thursday morning, the El Paso Children’s Museum leadership and international architects from Snøhetta unveiled the final design of the facility at a groundbreaking on the museum’s location in Downtown El Paso.
The new museum, located at 201 West Main in downtown El Paso, across the street from Southwest University Park, has been hailed as a “world-class, one-of-a-kind building.”
Snøhetta’s Elaine Molinar, a native El Pasoan and partner/managing director/architect, and Nick Anderson, director and senior architect, presented an overview of the unique, four-story, cloud-like 70,000-square foot museum.
“The new El Paso Children’s Museum will be a world-class venue, where not only the extensive exhibits but also the architecture itself and surrounding landscape will be a source of inspiration, education, and imagination that will be inviting for all cultures and ages from the borderplex region and beyond,” Snøhetta’s Elaine Molinar said.
Children took part in the groundbreaking immediately after the design reveal. El Paso Mayor Dee Margo, children’s museum board Chair Josh Hunt and El Paso Community Foundation President and CEO Eric Pearson spoke at the ceremony.
“The City of El Paso, in partnership with the El Paso Community Foundation, is eager to build the El Paso Children’s Museum,” said Mayor Margo. “This museum will be a shining addition to El Paso’s vibrant downtown district.”
The historic unveiling is the latest milestone for El Paso’s first purpose-built children’s museum, a special project of the El Paso Community Foundation, the City of El Paso and other community stakeholders.
“The power of this partnership is obvious in the innovative designs the Snøhetta team unveiled today. Because of this partnership, we will deliver to the community an immersive and interactive children’s museum designed to spark curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking. It will be as unique as the border region it will serve,” said Eric Pearson, President and CEO of the El Paso Community Foundation.
“This effort began back in 2012 and, as Board Chair, I am proud to honor the voters today for leading our city into a better quality of life and on to a more competitive level,” said Josh Hunt, Board Chair for the El Paso Children’s Museum. “Public-private partnerships work and this museum will be a prime example of that.”
The building’s singular geometries immediately set it apart from the El Paso skyline. The base is wrapped in glass, providing enticing interior views. The building is topped by a rippling succession of barrel vaults that soar to a cloud-like crown, like the clouds that hover over the El Paso borderland.
Snøhetta’s design provides ample outdoor public amenities, such as streetscapes, gathering areas and gardens, which are influenced by the Chihuahuan desert.
The first floor is a warm, light-filled open space, and includes exhibitions, a café, and the entrance to the learning landscape. The 60-foot atrium offers views of a spectacular climbing structure that spans the second to the fourth floors, with pathways that accommodate multiple forms of access and mobility needs.
Windows and lookout points provide introspection and eye-popping views of the Franklin Mountains to the northeast and Sierra de Juarez Mountains to the southwest.
In 2012, El Paso voters overwhelmingly approved a Quality of Life Bond program that included a new children’s museum. Since 2016, the El Paso Community Foundation has provided leadership on the public-private museum effort with the City of El Paso, including holding public forums, developing a master plan, conducting the international architectural design competition, and working with Snøhetta, local architects at Exigo, and the exhibit design firm Gyroscope Inc. to keep the museum on track. The project is expected to be complete in 2022.
Gallery/Renderings courtesy Snøhetta