Mandala Sunrise

Practice Area


University of Texas at El Paso


Project Vision

Mandala Sunrise was designed to celebrate the unique and remarkable blending of cultures embodied by UTEP’s special relationship and cultural partnership with Bhutan. This partnership, combined with the natural environment of the southwest, was inspiration for the project theme: redefining these elements into a highly engineered yet lyrical installation.

UTEP’s mountainous backdrop with color changes from sunrise to sunset, which is so unique to the southwest region, creates a dynamic and painterly effect. Adding to this visual language, in the vein of UTEP’s Bhutanese theme, the designers took the traditional sand mandala image and exploded the color palette of the sunrise spectrum as if the colors were flying up to the sky. The plan layout was defined in eight arched swirls, with tree-like posts whirling around each other in the roundabout setting. Additional components for this project were square and circle border patterns, similar to those used in the original sand mandalas, to provide structural definition.

This project installation was integrated into the roundabout landscape, visible to passengers in vehicles, pedestrians and onlookers from various vantage points. The overall effect was designed to blend into the landscape while establishing a strong visual language that is structural, dynamic and colorful.

Through the use of LED in-ground lighting, the entire installation changes from day to night. The LED night lighting can be programmed up to 10 scenes, to change colors, add a sense of movement or remain white to emphasize the layered sunset hues bouncing off the aluminum tree posts.

Project Details
Design Team

Koryn Rolstad, Thomas Miller, Warren Pope

Project Area

1,320 sq ft


Elizabeth Thurmond, ABHL Engineering