When we design a building that is needed by the community, such as the Clinica De Salud Familiar La Fe Pediatric Clinic, that is a rewarding feeling. But as with every project we design, it is a wonderful feeling to see the building being utilized by the people we designed it for. As a relatively new mom myself, my heart is linked to this project that has a WIC office, a breastfeeding room and the essential practices a pediatric clinic should have. This clinic has been renovated to transform urban blight into an inviting medical clinic that has become part of a cohesive campus offering adult care as well.

The original site had three shuttered homes, two vacated medical buildings, a single car garage, and a two-story apartment building. The homes were demolished to create additional parking. The remaining buildings were rehabilitated to define a single-use site complex. The rehabilitation involved demolishing all interior partitions and doors, a complete re-roof, along with new electrical, plumbing and mechanical systems. Each building had a different floor elevation; therefore, the clinic has five finish floor grade levels that now transition smoothly within the corridors.

The exterior appeal of the Pediatric Clinic is the combination of colorful stucco walls with the continuation of the building’s existing brick in the addition as a wainscot. The windows are located closer to the ceiling height, to allow natural sunlight to come in and still achieve privacy in the spaces.

We do not usually have to request special permits for the buildings we design – but La Fe really needed the land for building square footage, and therefore requested a waiver for off-site parking. The city requires that you provide a certain amount of parking spaces to comply with the City’s parking ordinance. We presented them a number of spaces available to park on the street and also to utilize the church parking lot across the street which is not in use during the peak hours of the clinic. We requested permission from the City so we could be able to build up to lot line, and due to the church allowing the clinic patrons to park in their lot, the City approved it. It usually is a time-consuming process, working with the Planning Department to submit the required data for review and approval from various City departments, then the City Plan Commission makes the final decision.

The rehabilitated clinic, now called the José Román MD Pediatric Clinic, after a beloved pediatrician in El Paso, includes a complete 3,937-square-foot remodel of a one-story and two-story building, and a 2,221-square-foot addition (a portion of which is the Women Infants and Children Program office), along with exam rooms, offices, a classroom, pharmacy, and lab room (which was originally the single car garage!) among other amenities. A large conference/training room was placed upstairs. The interior was designed to be durable and low maintenance, yet multicolored and playful. We selected bright colored accent walls in the children’s exam rooms to give the rooms added appeal.

Another building was renovated to become an adult clinic a year later. Since the property was limited, spatial planning was imperative to provide all the programmed spaces for both clinics and still allow space to accommodate parking and landscaping requirements.

Now it’s a campus. The parking lot is designed to be shared by both clinics. It all worked out to be a big success; we united all those disconnected and very different facilities into a unified medical center with plenty of character.