In association with Paul Foster, El Paso-based In*Situ Architecture, and Dallas-based ForrestPerkins as well as the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Texas State Historic Preservation Office, design firm Cooper Carry led the historic rehabilitation and design refresh of the Plaza Hotel Pioneer Park in El Paso, Texas. A cross-collaboration of the firm’s Hospitality studio and the Johnson Studio at Cooper Carry, the reimagined property includes 130 guestrooms, 7,600 square feet of event space, and the Ámbar Restaurante and Lobby Bar. La Perla, a rooftop bar overlooking the Franklin Mountains and border to Mexico, is available for private events and will open to the public this fall.
The 1930s-era hotel is emblematic of the city’s prominent Pueblo Deco style. Originally designed by local architects Trost & Trost, the hotel’s design represents a distinct hybrid of the Art Deco style made popular in the 1920s and the naturalistic, Native American adobe architectural styles. Partially funded by historic state tax credits and abatements, the design team worked closely with the national and state organizations to accommodate modern hotel operation and amenities while also rehabilitating key aspects of the initial design, including all of the historic signage, brick façade, precast deco reliefs and signature medallions, bronze on many of the storefronts and second-floor windows, interior wood trim surrounding the tower widows, the clay tile roof, and Spanish-tiled pyramidal crown.
The Pueblo Deco influence continues throughout the hotel’s interiors. Upon entering the lobby, guests are greeted by the reinstated double-height atrium, previously enclosed during a midcentury renovation, as well as stained glass, skylights, wood beams, decorative stenciling, and an original railing on the historic staircase connecting the first and second levels. In areas where the original terra cotta tile flooring was missing and not able to be preserved, Cooper Carry used concrete flooring to create a layered texture. Pulling insight from newspaper stories and photographs published around the hotel’s first public opening, the design team reinterpreted many of the original elements with custom light fixtures, materials, and color choices. A palette of rich walnut wood, velvet and mohair fabrics, warm brass metals, and hand-tooled leather create a social atmosphere in the atrium and adjacent 7,500-square-foot restaurant and lobby bar.
Photo: Courtesy of Cooper Carry