The University of Texas at El Paso Health Sciences and Nursing Building
El Paso, TX
The 130,000-square-foot Health Sciences and Nursing Building sits on what is now the most prominent site of the UTEP campus. The five-story building reflects and supports an integrated vision of healthcare education and provides space to house 3,000 students and 100 faculty members from the College of Health Sciences and the School of Nursing. This state-of-art facility contains instructional, research and laboratory spaces, including the 16,000-square-foot Simulation Center to teach essential nursing skills in actual clinical settings.
The design of the Health Sciences and Nursing Building reflects the distinctive “Bhutanese” architectural style of the UTEP campus. While conducting extensive research on the history and elements of Bhutanese architecture, the Page design team discovered the design standards of the Department of Urban Development and Engineering Services (DUDES) of the Bhutanese Government. The standards revealed rules on how each of these elements could and should be used on buildings and resulted in the design of a different roof type for this building, as well as increasing the amount of exterior glass, bringing daylight deep into the inside of the building.
The Health Sciences and Nursing Building was the first to be designed on campus following the design standards of the Bhutanese Government while also respecting and balancing the history of the UTEP campus. Implementing these standards allowed the design team to highlight a number of elements that had never been used on campus, including a lung-go roof, gomang and nimchong rabsels (sunrooms). Placing the sunroom in its correct place, facing east, helps block the morning sun, but also brings in light to the entry courtyard.
The steep site offered an isolated opportunity to address grade change in a relatively flat area; the building reacts differently to the surrounding buildings because of the dissimilarity in topography. One solution was to design a two-level courtyard which follows the contour of the site, creating traditional outdoor spaces which are very prominent in Bhutan.
Following the completion of the Health Sciences and Nursing Building, Page designed two additional projects which support the building as it relates to the site around it. A pedestrian bridge, which spans 150 feet across Sun Bowl Drive, connects one of the largest parking lots to the building. A 26-foot-tall tower supports the bridge, which was based on the design of Bhutanese bridges, and houses stairs and an elevator. When completed, the Wiggin Plaza will create a grand plaza connecting the library and Health Sciences and Nursing Building. This plaza will offer comfortable spaces for students, faculty and staff by creating a well balanced mixture of shading structures, trees, and soft and hard-surfaces.
As the lead design firm, Page provided architecture and engineering services and associated on the project with the El Paso-based architecture firm, Carl Daniel Architects, and RCG Architects of Baltimore. Vaughn Construction was the contractor for the new building.
“UTEP’s Bhutanese Campus Goes Modern.” Texas Architect, January-February 2009