2018 - Competition Entry
The new Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen, Texas will serve as an anchor for the local community and a place of sanctuary for the vulnerable. The facility is designed to exude a warmth and tranquility that welcomes refugee families who recently arrived in the United States. The architecture is built primarily with rammed earth, a local and sustainable material that is reminiscent of adobe – mudbrick – that was used by the indigenous peoples of the region and for many of the original Catholic missions. It is a robust and beautiful material that may lend a sense of familiarity and comfort to the refugee families as they transition to this country.
When families arrive at the Humanitarian Respite Center, they will be greeted by a reflecting pool that runs along a protected arcade. The refugees will walk through arches next to the reflecting pool as they approach the building entrance. They can pause to sit on the benches here for moments of quiet contemplation as the dappled surface of the pool reflects light onto the vaulted ceiling of the arcade.
The layout of the building is centered around the large Multipurpose room. This space will be the center of activity and congregation for both the community and refugees, and as such, has skylights and a high ceiling to create a sense of openness. The space has views to gardens on both sides – a children’s recreation area and a tranquil garden with native landscaping.