Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Digital Wall to Be Housed in Protective Pavilion

Museum of History Chooses New Design for Entrance Plaza

The project to bring the country’s first TouchCity Digital Wall to the El Paso Museum of History took another step forward recently when officials chose the tentative design for a pavilion that will protect the new installation.
A 1,661 square foot pavilion will protect the future TouchCity Digital Wall and its users at the El Paso Museum of History. (Courtesy MNK Architects)

Designed by MNK Architects of El Paso (, the 1,661 square foot pavilion features a protective roof with distinctive angles, new signage for the museum and the Digital Wall, and materials that both distinguish it and marry it to the existing building. In effect, it will serve as an entrance plaza to the Museum’s exhibit spaces.

The Digital Wall itself will be attached to the south-facing wall of the museum building, to the west of the existing entrance doors. The five screens that make up the Digital Wall will be enclosed in an insulated structure, supplied by EuropTec USA of West Virginia, a company specializing in anti-glare glass.

A solar study was conducted using 3-D imaging to determine how the path of the sun will affect the pavilion. (Courtesy MNK Architects)

The protective glass will actually float above the screens, allowing a 1/8 of an inch gap of air. It will have a LUXAR antireflective coating to lessen glare, and will include an easy-to-clean treatment that will lessen effects of fingerprints from users. Dust-proof enclosures will protect HyperSound speakers from dust.

Gibson Group of New Zealand, the production firm that created the TouchCity Digital Wall, describes it as a giant “interactive kiosk designed to give a wide public audience on the streets direct and playful access to their museum’s collections, and to add their own material in real time.” The touch screens allow users to explore “maps” using images and videos from both the museums they serve and the public.
A concept image of the view looking north at the Digital Wall pavilion. A cantilevered roof floats over the museum grounds, on the left. (Courtesy MNK Architects)

Museum officials have opted not to enclose the pavilion in order to make the Digital Wall a more inviting feature to passersby. A set of angled columns dive down from the ceiling and meet at a single point, a circular bench on the western edge of the pavilion. A cantilevered roof will float over the pathway on the same side.

“This was designed for El Paso,” says Renée Jiménez, AIA, President and CEO of MNK Architects, “and by El Paso,” referring to the hand the local firm has had in creating the innovative design. “It’s about who the project is for.”

Jennifer Matthews, AIA, Principal at MNK adds, “You’re bringing consultants and ideas from out of town, but it’s being built by local architects and engineers.”
This westward view shows the location of the Digital Wall within the pavilion. In front and to the left of the wall, a circular bench is the focal point of multiple beams. (Courtesy MNK Architects)

Plans are also in the works for a mobile unit that will travel to functions through the city, such as schools and events, and will be a miniature version of the Digital Wall at the Museum of History. The idea is still in the early stages, but the tentative plan is to have a 72-inch mobile screen that will have the same type of 3-D map software planned for the Museum.

Officials hope to have the Digital Wall project completed at the El Paso Museum of History by December 2014.

Related: 3-D Digital Wall Coming to Museum of History