Eastside Regional Recreation Center / Perkins&Will + In*Situ Architects

Eastside Regional Recreation Center / Perkins&Will + In*Situ Architects

Eastside Regional Recreation Center / Perkins&Will + In*Situ Architects - Exterior PhotographyEastside Regional Recreation Center / Perkins&Will + In*Situ Architects - Interior Photography, FacadeEastside Regional Recreation Center / Perkins&Will + In*Situ Architects - Interior Photography, ChairEastside Regional Recreation Center / Perkins&Will + In*Situ Architects - Exterior PhotographyEastside Regional Recreation Center / Perkins&Will + In*Situ Architects - More Images+ 21

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Eastside Regional Recreation Center / Perkins&Will + In*Situ Architects - Exterior Photography
© James Steinkamp Photography

Text description provided by the architects. El Paso’s new Eastside Regional Recreation Center is an expression of light, landscape, and culture in a fast-growing part of the Chihuahuan Desert. As the first completed projects in the larger 92-acre park, the recreation center and water park transform an extreme, high-altitude desert basin into an inviting social sanctuary for the community, with a competition-class aquatics facility, gymnasium, senior center, outdoor aquatics park, and a public art installation, Oasis Sombrio, by Dallas-based artist Brad Goldberg. The project is anchored to its rugged site with cultural and geological references to the nearby Hueco Tanks State Park, a destination for people in earlier times where they harvested rainwater pooled in the natural rock basins. Cultural artifacts, including stone carvings and petroglyphs that date back to 6000 BCE, combine with the natural environment. 

Eastside Regional Recreation Center / Perkins&Will + In*Situ Architects - Exterior Photography, Facade
© James Steinkamp Photography
Eastside Regional Recreation Center / Perkins&Will + In*Situ Architects - Exterior Photography
© James Steinkamp Photography

The transformation of the site can be traced back to an interesting history of privatized leisure and recreation. Work began in 1951 on clearing land for an improbable country club with a 9-hole golf course. What might have seemed obvious from the outset, the inability to sustain Bermuda and Bent grass in the Chihuahuan desert, ultimately thwarted the development. The local gas company purchased the land in 1955 and made it an employee-only recreation club. When the company relocated its headquarters, the club was abandoned. The City of El Paso would purchase this land for the Regional Park as part of the 2012 Quality of Life Bonds project.

Eastside Regional Recreation Center / Perkins&Will + In*Situ Architects - Exterior Photography, Facade
© James Steinkamp Photography
Eastside Regional Recreation Center / Perkins&Will + In*Situ Architects - Image 22 of 26
Site plan

The desert sun in Texas is intense and dynamic. Modulating this light drove the design strategy at all scales of the project. Shade structures allow visitors to spend time outside and to transition comfortably into and out of the building. Articulation of humble materials—tilt-wall concrete, wood slats, and perforated metal—filter light and views throughout the interior in ways appropriate to the desert context.

Eastside Regional Recreation Center / Perkins&Will + In*Situ Architects - Image 23 of 26
First floor plan

The gymnasium concrete panels are shaped to overcome a potentially monolithic surface, allow indirect light without creating glare, and have been stained to match the color of the local soil to give this volume added distinction. Similarly, a saw-tooth panel arrangement at the natatorium invites natural light without creating dangerous reflections on the water.  Light is also a notable part of the design after sunset, with the south façade animated in support of city-led colored lighting and public art initiative.

Eastside Regional Recreation Center / Perkins&Will + In*Situ Architects - Interior Photography, Stairs
© James Steinkamp Photography
Eastside Regional Recreation Center / Perkins&Will + In*Situ Architects - Interior Photography
© James Steinkamp Photography

Through careful landscape design and palette selection, the project blends with the natural ecosystem. Each segment—the public art, shaded plaza, water park, and community center— complements one another to create a cohesive desert haven. Designers chose all native Texas plantings to restore the site’s natural, pre-development flora. Local water-conserving vegetation and arroyos surrounding the building minimize water diversion, protecting against drought and celebrating the biodiversity of the Chihuahuan Desert.

Eastside Regional Recreation Center / Perkins&Will + In*Situ Architects - Interior Photography, Facade
© James Steinkamp Photography
Eastside Regional Recreation Center / Perkins&Will + In*Situ Architects - Interior Photography, Stairs, Chair
© James Steinkamp Photography

A series of water harvesting depressions and green spaces manage and transport all site runoff into onsite detention ponds. Encouraging health, leisure, and connectivity, while meeting multigenerational needs, the Eastside Recreation Center supports the city’s broader mission to enhance locals’ quality of life. The design not only highlights the value of the public realm, but also the energizing potential of civic investment in wellness. 

Eastside Regional Recreation Center / Perkins&Will + In*Situ Architects - Exterior Photography
© James Steinkamp Photography

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Project location

Address:El Paso, Texas, United States

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Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
About this office
Cite: "Eastside Regional Recreation Center / Perkins&Will + In*Situ Architects" 12 Dec 2022. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/993601/eastside-regional-recreation-center-perkins-and-will-plus-in-star-situ-architects> ISSN 0719-8884

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