Campus Master Plan | 2011
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Bhutanese Influence

After the first building at Fort Bliss was destroyed by fire, Dean Stephen Howard Worrell chose the current location overlooking Sunset Heights and downtown El Paso. Dean Worrell's wife, Katherine, remembered how the site at the foothills of the Franklin Mountains reminded her of a 1914 National Geographic article, titled "Castles in the Air," about the temples occupying a similarly picturesque landscape in the Kingdom of Bhutan.

Thus the first building was designed using motifs from Bhutan by Henry Trost, a prominent El Paso architect in the early 20th century. The architecture is characterized by massive battered walls, deep overhangs, high inset windows, and dark bands of brick with mosaic-tiled mandalas—symbols of unity. Since that time, the University has incorporated the Bhutanese style in virtually all buildings on the campus. The result is an American university campus unlike any other. The consistency of this architectural vocabulary is an enormous source of pride for the UTEP community, and indeed, El Paso itself.

As the University continues to grow, and programs become much larger and more complex to accommodate modern teaching and research, extreme care must be used in the siting, massing and detailing of future buildings in order to maintain the integrity of the campus.

The battered walls and flared timber roofs of traditional Bhutanese temples, palaces, and monasteries have been incorporated into the University's architecture since the campus's founding. Red brick banding and golden cupolas, or sertogs, are also typical. (Photos courtesy Greg McNicol)










Constructed in 1917, Old Main (pictured above) was the first building on the new campus. Its battered walls, flared roof, and red brick banding set the tone for the University's unique interpretation of Bhutanese architecture.

The Academic Services Building (pictured right and below) is one of the campus's newer facilities. Its form departs from the simplicity of older campus buildings, with articulated volumes and towers that break its mass into an aggregation of smaller elements, recalling the irregularity of Bhutanese monasteries.






Graham Hall (pictured above), another of the University's early buildings, sits just below the steep campus slopes that first evoked the Bhutanese Himalayas.