Don Haskins Recreation Center and Park City of El Paso

The challenge of this award-winning project was to turn the 100-acre detention basin into a new park and recreation center, yet still preserve the protective flood drainage ponds and natural arroyos.

Brilliant colors of the Don Haskins Recreation Center and Park in El Paso evoke the colors of sunset on the nearby Franklin Mountains.

Parkhill partnered with award-winning Schrickel|Rollins landscape architecture firm in the master planning of a Westside regional park site. Since then, the two firms have merged. The City of El Paso selected SR to provide master planning for the park, detailed design of the recreation facilities and landscape development. Parkhill provided site planning and design services to develop a conceptual site plan that would satisfy arroyo advocates as well as hikers and bikers thirsty for new trails, and that would be a beneficial use of precious open space. The trails were left in their original state to preserve the plant life and wildlife found within the Mulberry Reservoir.

The sheer complexity of this issue and challenge it posed had led many in the city to forgo considering the site for previous projects.

The community center’s design evokes Sun City sunsets.
The design features radiating, colorful and light-enhancing themes in the main gymnasium, auxiliary gym/rental hall, lounge area, game room, exercise/weight room, staff office, central control desk, equipment storage and support spaces. Because the project bid under budget, the City of El Paso requested several upgrades
It is now called the Don Haskins Recreation Center and Park.
The exercise/weight room utilizes day lighting with multiple windows. The center also houses a main gymnasium, auxiliary gym/rental hall, lounge area, game room, commercial kitchen, staff office, central control desk, equipment storage and support spaces.
Walking trails for various levels of ability are featured.
The colorful playground with shading includes a rock climbing wall, slides, a maze and other features.
The maze draws interest visually as well as providing a fun activity for the children.
Picnic tables, security lighting, security cameras, ADA accessible sidewalks and landscaping are part of the draw for residents.
Unique characteristics of the project included multi-agency coordination, arroyo protection and a siren system that senses flooding a mile away. The design exceeded the goals of the client and promises a new level of safety during floods through Parkhill’s innovative use of ICPR computer modeling. The project redefines El Paso’s approach to reusing detention basin areas for beneficial public use. The project also utilizes reclaimed water for irrigation of the recreation fields and landscaped areas, creating a more sustainable future in regards to the potable water supply for the citizens of El Paso.
As a result of the storms of 2006, all future and existing parks and public areas will look at the design of the Don Haskins Recreation Center and Park as a prime example of measures taken in order to ensure the safety and welfare of the users during any rain event.


  • The City of El Paso Mayor's Award for Design on a City Project.
  • Honorable Mention Award by the AIA for Outstanding Architectural Design.
  • Engineering Excellence Awards - Silver Medal Winner by Texas Council of Engineering Companies