In January of 2017, PSC was appointed by El Paso Community College (EPCC) to provide architectural design services for the new Academic Classroom and Parking Garage Facility at the Rio Grande Campus. The project scope for the new multi-level building includes a 400-space parking garage on the first five floors and 65,200 SF of academic spaces on the top two floors. Unique factors of the facility included a limited site for construction, mixed use of two occupancies in a 7-story building, and fulfilling the requirements for specialty healthcare classrooms and simulation labs. The Rio Grande Campus is also the only campus in an urban setting and sits within neighboring historic areas. Similar to the campus, the site and the facility program, the character of this new facility is reflected in the distinctness of the building design.

Academic Building & Parking Garage Groundbreaking at EPCC Rio Grande Campus from Parkhill, Smith & Cooper on Vimeo.

Structurally, the building skeleton designed with cast-in-place post-tensioned concrete forms the seven stories extending to lot lines on the west, north and east sides. Various forms divide the exterior walls and present opportunities for openings, fenestration and shading. There are openings in the forms of pedestrian and vehicular entry/exit points and in the fenestration at the two upper levels to allow daylight into the academic spaces.  Horizontal louvers partly enclose and shade the ribbon windows on the academic levels and the vertical storefront at the stairs. Vertical forms accent the building stairways, which are daylit throughout all the floors to encourage use of the stairs. The building materials include composite metal panels, stucco, brick, glass and metal accents.

The south side presented an opportunity to provide an outdoor experience. The site includes a pedestrian plaza on the south side of the property. This outdoor area provides a social gathering space and also connects the campus from the easternmost Student Services Building on Oregon Street and Montana Avenue towards the westernmost campus buildings on El Paso Street. Street trees will be planted along Oregon Street. To meet the city’s landscaping ordinance, all landscaping will be included as vertical plantscaping on the building’s walls and within the plaza. The project broke ground in April 2018 and is expected to be completed in 2020.

“Each square foot represents an opportunity to learn.”

William Serrata, EPCC campus president