- MARC FORNES / THEVERYMANY
Architect of Record for Westside Natatorium
Artwork Owned and CommissionedCity of El Paso
Long Form Statement
A parasol planted in the sand, a tropical fish on land, a tent at the foot of Franklin Mountains: this exuberant surface assumes multiple guises. Marquise is a spatial entry structure for El Paso’s Westside Natatorium. A visual icon and architectural threshold, the lightweight aluminum structure transforms the approach and experience of this new public building. Gridded curvilinear panels comprise the brightly-colored canopy and as well its self-supporting structural system.
A two-way Cheshire gradient in deep blues and warm yellows alternate graphically to emphasize the sweeping surfaces. Seemingly inflated by the wind, as a tent or sail, the ultra-thin surface billows up from the ground, where it forms two contiguous seats: cast in place concrete elements that inherit the compound curvature of the faceted but flowing surface.
Marquise strikes its visitors differently: for small guests lining up for swimming lessons, the surface overhead appears to be some kind of circus tent or a parachute frozen in midair. A bit of excitement before it’s time to suit up. Older patrons might find a welcome moment of pause at this shady entrance, before water aerobics or head back into the heat of the parking lot.
Under the dappled light, we've carved out a place that isn't just for coming or going, but for lingering. At all hours, the space under and around Marquise welcomes moments that stretch into longer durations. When you're waiting for your ride or meeting the swim team, outside the Natatorium is a place to chill out before dipping in. Before 6 am laps to after dusk, Marquise alternately shades and radiates for pool-goers and all others. The structure almost insists upon loitering -- why wouldn’t you want to hang out there?