snøhetta has unveiled the final design for a children’s museum it is currently working on in el paso, texas. the ‘cloud-like’ building, which broke ground on october 1, 2020, contains 70,000-square feet (6,503 square meters) across its four stories. the museum aims to become a civic classroom and energy point for the region’s families, designed to maximize open-ended and imaginative play and exploration.

snøhetta el paso children's museumall images by moare, courtesy of snøhetta



the el paso children’s museum is positioned within the heart of the city’s downtown arts district, close to san jacinto plaza and el paso del norte, a major border-crossing station. to the north, the site is bounded by the union pacific railroad, one of two major transcontinental freight lines in the western united states. standing in contrast the area’s existing architecture, the rectilinear base of snøhetta’s design is wrapped in glass — providing inviting interior views to passersby.

snøhetta el paso children's museum



the open and light-filled first floor includes free exhibitions as well as a café and the entrance to the learning landscape. a 60-foot (18 meter) atrium delivers views to a climbing structure, which spans the second to the fourth floor, with pathways that can accommodate multiple forms of access and varying mobility needs. windows and lookout points provide opportunities for introspection, with views to the surrounding mountain ranges. the building is topped by a rippling succession of barrel vaults, which soar to a cloud-like crown.

snøhetta el paso children's museum



at the eastern end of the building, a terraced garden creates a series of outdoor rooms, each with a distinct atmosphere. here, families can enjoy respite from the sun with a shady grove of trees and a cooling mist playground that acts as a low-flow water and recreation feature. while the museum offers many opportunities for hands on play, including exhibitions and a vertical climber, all designed by gyroscope, the character of the design seeks to provide a sense of calm and peacefulness, as a welcome complement to the energy of the surrounding exhibits. see designboom’s previous coverage of the project here.

snøhetta unveils plans for 'cloud-like' el paso children's museum in texas




project info: 


architect: snøhetta
timeline: 2017 – ongoing
location: el paso, texas
status: in progress