• View of downtown El Paso from Hotel Paso del Norte. – photo by Killy Photography

For the first time since 1977, Texas Society of Architects brought its Annual Conference & Design Expo to the sunniest city in Texas, El Paso. Themed “Connection,” the event focused on how the built environment and actions architects take all connect to each other and how to consider that impact.

For three days, downtown El Paso was flooded with architects and design professionals from across the state for a jam-packed schedule full of continuing education sessions, architectural tours, keynote speakers, networking in the Design Expo, and exploring the city.

Highlights from the first day included kicking off the conference with a wide array of architectural tours, convening members for the TxA Annual Business Meeting, and enjoying the Design Expo Welcome Party with exhibitors. After a round of alumni receptions from various Texas schools of architecture, many attendees enjoyed learning about the region from presenters at El Paso’s PechaKucha Night, “Just Beneath The Surface.”

“I loved the historic architectural buildings tour (and learned that Henry C. Trost rocks!), and getting to know the rich flavors and welcoming culture of El Paso!”

Keenan Smith, AIA

Friday began with a series of inspiring keynote presentations from author Richard Rothstein on “The Color of Law,” and Snøhetta managing partner Elaine Molinar, AIA. Attendees were led from the historic Plaza Theatre to the Design Expo Brunch with Exhibitors by a local student mariachi band, providing connection to the local culture. Continuing education sessions during the day offered engagement on a wide variety of topics, including a lecture on local architect Mabel Welch, a full room at the Women in Architecture Roundtable, and an interactive session on Texas Accessibility Standards. The state’s newly-licensed architects were honored at the New Architects Convocation, and the day wrapped up with an Emerging Professionals Party and a Masquerade Ball to celebrate the year’s award winners and dance the night away!

The final day of the conference featured a closing keynote from Cade Hayes, AIA, and Jesús Robles Jr., Assoc. AIA, of DUST Architects. Winners of TxA’s Student Design Challenge were recognized in one of the final continuing education sessions of the day, and some members braved a chilly Sunday morning to participate in AIA El Paso’s 5K to officially end a great weekend in the city.

“As host chapter, AIA El Paso knew this would be a challenge yet a great opportunity to share what our border community has to offer,” says Michael Stills, AIA, president of AIA El Paso. “After all, it had been 45 years since El Paso last hosted the conference. El Paso has grown in those years and the downtown revitalization had put El Paso in position to shine. I truly hope attendees enjoyed their experience and come away with a greater appreciation of El Paso, its architecture, culture, and more. All the positive comments I heard throughout the conference makes me proud to be an El Pasoan and only reaffirms El Paso is significant and validates the hard work of the El Paso chapter conference committee.”

We thank El Paso for their hospitality and providing the space for a memorable conference. We’re already looking forward to next year in Fort Worth — see you for #TxA23 November 2-4, 2023!

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