After winning the competition for the new El Paso Children’s Museum, Snøhetta has designed a light filled, lofty and playful museum in the heart of the city. Snøhetta has partnered with El Paso architects Exigo, and is working with Gyroscope who is designing the exhibitions for the museum. The unveiling of the design marks the latest milestone for the city’s first purpose-built children’s museum, programmed to bring value to all youth in the region and also to complement the nearby children’s museum in the city of Juarez. The architecture reveals itself as a cloud, floating above the desert connecting all people in this important place, young and old alike.
At the eastern end of the building, a terraced discovery garden creates a series of outdoor rooms, each with a distinct atmosphere to enjoy. Local plants and natural boulders highlight the colors and textures of the surrounding desert. Families can enjoy a respite from the sun and heat with a shady grove of trees and a cooling mist playground that acts as a low-flow water and recreation feature.
The new 70,000 SF museum is positioned within the heart of El Paso’s Downtown Arts district, close to the vibrant San Jacinto plaza and less than one kilometer from El Paso del Norte, a major border-crossing station. To the north, the site is bounded by the Union Pacific Railroad, one of two major transcontinental freight lines in the western United States.
The building’s unique geometries immediately set it apart in the city’s skyline: the rectilinear base is wrapped in glass, providing interior views to entice passersby to stop inside the public lobby, and is topped by a rippling succession of barrel vaults which soar to a cloud-like crown.
The new El Paso Children’s Museum aims to become a civic classroom and energy point for the region’s families, designed to maximize open-ended and imaginative play and exploration. Snøhetta’s design considers how the museum itself can become a learning tool. With spaces and exhibitions that inspire the imagination of both children and adults alike, the museum celebrates the unique culture and geography of El Paso while providing barrier-free access to educational opportunities.