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Southwest University Park

Designing the future, preserving the past

Project Facts

Location El Paso, Texas
Owner City of El Paso
Cost $72 million
Status Completed 2014
Capacity 9,500 seats
Certifications LEED Gold


Harmoniously fusing timeless jewel box architectural elements with ingenious yet sustainable solutions to site challenges, Southwest University Park was the first U.S. Minor League ballpark to achieve LEED Gold. The development fuses form and function while honoring the area’s railway heritage, including the preservation of a nearly century-old retaining wall. Taking design cues from a neighboring historic train depot, this ballpark is a pioneer in designing for preservation.

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About the project

This iconic ballpark features classic architectural elements like concourse trusses and columns made from laced steel, harkening back to the jewel box ballparks of the early 1900s. Walter P Moore worked with the designer to sculpt the concourse trusses with curved geometry, drawing inspiration from the nearby 1906 Daniel Burnham Train Depot.

Nestled in the city’s heart, the stadium’s unique site constraints gave rise to an asymmetrical bowl design. In response, Walter P Moore innovated solutions such as additional structural transfers, carefully navigating sloping conditions, and incorporating accelerator stairs.

As part of their comprehensive design approach, Walter P Moore also envisioned and brought to life two pedestrian plazas that boldly cantilever over the nearby Bataan Memorial Trainway, a three-track train corridor positioned 25 feet below field level. These plazas not only serve as connectors between the ballpark and the existing convention center but also stand as a testament to the firm’s commitment to seamlessly blending function and aesthetics in urban design. 

The structural design team created a fully connected, fabrication-ready, steel detailing model. Not only did this shorten the steel procurement time, but it also allowed the team to coordinate the aesthetic aspects of the exposed structure.

Construction began immediately following the implosion of the city hall and was completed in the spring of 2014, approximately 15 months after the kickoff of structural design. In order to accommodate this aggressive schedule, structural drawings were issued in advance packages to facilitate the start of construction during design. This close proximity to the trainway demanded meticulous foundation coordination with the railroad, as well as with an existing retaining wall dating back to 1940, and adds another touch of “vintage” charm to the venue.