Campus Master Plan | 2011
Click here for a full PDF copy of the UTEP Campus Master Plan


Architecture in support of the campus's Civic Structure

The civic role of architecture on the UTEP campus is to define and articulate its public spaces. Building facades and massing should delineate space, frame views, and provide points of emphasis at significant junctures within the campus. Architectural design is to establish relationships between the built environment and the natural terrain, complementing or contrasting with the form of the land as appropriate for particular circumstances of siting and context.

The multilevel roofs of Bhutan's Punakha Dzong (top and bottom images), perhaps the country's most iconic structure, articulate the discrete volumes that comprise this immense monastery complex. Smaller Bhutanese structures (middle images) are simpler in form, with modest gabled roofs. (Photos courtesy Greg McNicol)

Architectural Style

The Bhutanese architectural style has been an important part of its heritage since the University's foundation on the current site in 1917, and should continue to be utilized for new construction. It is characterized by low angle sloped tile roofs, either hipped or gable, and often multileveled and complex in arrangement; by wide overhanging eaves supported by decorated exposed rafters; by massive masonry walls of stucco or stone; and by areas of relatively small punched windows contrasting with areas of curtain wall (wooden curtain wall in the original Bhutanese examples). The top floor window zone is often demarcated by a horizontal red band, typically of brick or red stucco at UTEP. Decorative mandala patterns embellish this red band between window openings. Many of the UTEP buildings are constructed of quite beautiful uncoursed stonework. Others are beige or warm grey stucco or concrete.

The red ochre stripe, or kemar, that adorns monasteries in Bhutan (above) has become one of the UTEP campus's primary decorative motifs.

Architectural Typology

While the smaller buildings of Bhutan tend to be simple unitary masses, larger buildings are composed as complexes, irregular in their overall configuration, but assembled out of smaller symmetrical building components—towers, pavilions, and wings—and are often organized around courtyards.

The monastic buildings of Bhutan have massive exterior walls with few openings at ground level—they are in effect fortifications for these isolated communities. The urban buildings of Bhutan, however, often incorporate loggias and areas of wooden curtain wall. The Master Plan proposes that where appropriate, loggias be provided in the ground floor of new buildings to create shaded passages, and to give buildings a welcoming and permeable perimeter.

Internal courtyards and gallerias, whether open to the sky or illuminated by clerestory windows or sun shaded skylights, will form part of the campus's network of pedestrian pathways.

Bhutanese structures are characterized both by massive battered masonry walls with small punched windows (above left) as well as by large areas of intricately painted wooden curtainwall (above right).
(Photos courtesy Greg McNicol)

While UTEP buildings have traditionally drawn much inspiration from the heavy battered walls of Bhutan, the country's many courtyards and loggia-lined streets (above) are an equally valid precedent for campus architecture.


Buildings should generally be three to five floors tall, and generally a maximum of four floors.


The existing materials of the campus—stone, stucco, brick, warm colored concrete, roofing tiles, and decorative tiles—should continue to be employed in new construction.

Mechanical Systems

The campus roofscape is particularly important at UTEP, as the topography allows many vantage points from which building rooftops can be seen. Building mechanical systems should be hidden, preferably within building attics. They should be designed and located to avoid causing obtrusive noise in public areas.


Dark Sky principles should be followed in siting and selecting exterior light fixtures.

Campus Gateways

The master plan recommends that visually consistent gateways be constructed at significant campus entrances to better define the boundaries of campus.

The entrance to Old Main (above) and the large window above recall the forms of Bhutanese portals and projecting windows.

Historic campus buildings feature a range of ornamental details, from decorative tile mandalas that echo Bhutanese architecture (left lower image, Old Main) to carved stone reliefs referencing the University's mining heritage (left upper image, Geology Building).

Massive Battered Walls at Vowell Hall, with Old Main and Quinn Hall beyond

Stuccoed masonry wall at Old Main

Uncoursed stone wall at Holiday Hall

University Museum Courtyard

Library Atrium

Proposed Campus Gateway at University Avenue