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john e. uxer head start complex

AIA city place El Paso Chapter Design Award 2002

With its careful orchestration of dynamic forms, outdoor spaces and playful colors, this 25,800 sf complex stands out in its desert environment as a place of wonder and excitement for children. Splashes of purple and red respond to the mountain background of the city place Franklins in an effort to negotiate between artifice and nature. Fragments of yellow complete the color scheme as they interact with incisions in the walls of the Intellizeum. Landscaping and outdoor spaces are also important considerations in the design of this project. The landscaping scheme offers a responsible solution that maximizes xeriscape fir minimal impact on the desert environment and water supplies. Grass is used sparing as an aesthetic element but serves its purpose as additional seating or the outdoor amphitheater. A fabric canopy hovers over radially terraced concrete seating, providing sun cover for young spectators. The canopy provides visual impetus for activity and performance at the amphitheater as it seems to prepare for flight towards the mountains. Another outdoor space defined by a louvered canopy provides the opportunity for open air gathering. The louver canopy offers a dynamic solution to sun protection by casting striped shadows on the building, thus capitalizing on the rays of the sun to articulate and bring to life otherwise plain facades.

The Program for the John E. Uxer Head Start Complex includes classrooms, administrative space, indoor and outdoor gathering spaces, a small library, a science museum (Intellizeum), and an outdoor amphitheater. The Intellizeum lays the groundwork for displays by providing a large, open utilitarian space and features a composition of windows designed specifically for small children. The Intellizeum space also features a theater space for viewing films and other visual media.

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