The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) is the educational center of a community uniquely situated at the U.S.-Mexico border, and services over 23,000 students annually. To celebrate its 100 years of service to the Paso del Norte region, the University transformed the heart of its campus from an automobile centric environment dominated by asphalt, into an inviting community landscape that reflects the beauty of the Chihuahuan desert by increasing the vegetative area of the site by 60 percent.
UTEP’s Campus Transformation Project (CTP) strengthens the connection between the city, the campus, and the land by converting acres of sloping streets and parking into a beautiful, pedestrian-oriented, accessible green space that promotes outdoor learning and celebrates ephemeral stormwater. The core of the CTP includes Centennial Plaza and Centennial Green, richly detailed outdoor gathering spaces that feature a performance lawn and amphitheater. A diverse array of native plants and local stone create campus malls, courtyard, promontories and desert gardens that invite students and the community to embrace and enjoy nature.
In July 2016, the CTP received SITES Silver, and became the first project certified under v2 of the SITES Rating System. The CTP is one of the first and largest green infrastructure projects in the El Paso region, and one of the few projects in the region that displays the diversity and beauty of low water use plants native to the Chihuahuan Desert. Sustainable landscape practices include vegetated arroyo and acequia bioswales that mimics the function of natural desert riparian corridors, and the replacement of asphalt with a diverse native plant palette including 571 trees, 1,831 shrubs and 4,089 perennials. The CTP also provides 641 quiet outdoor spaces for mental restoration, as well as 1,884 seats for social interaction where students, professors and staff can connect with peers and experience the benefits of nature. Through this project, UTEP is helping its community be more successful and deal with life challenges by providing a sustainable landscape that can improve cognitive function, reduce stress and offer opportunities for physical exercise.
Photos by Adam Barbe
- Ten Eyck Landscape Architects (Prime consultant and Landscape Architect)
- Quantum Civil Engineers (Civil Engineer)
- AEC (Structural Engineer)
- EEA (MEP Engineer)
- Lake | Flato Architects (Architect)
- Aqua Irrigation (Irrigation Designer)
- RLB (Cost Control Consultant)
- Altura Solutions (Accessibility Consultant)
- Biohabitats (Ecological Engineer)
- Regenerative Environmental Design (Sustainability Consultant)
- Yarnell & Assoc. (Lighting Designer)
- LAS (Local Site Reviewer)
- CF Jordan (Contractor)