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1001 G Street Northwest 250W
Washington, DC, 20001
United States

(202) 333-4480

With a professional working relationship spanning three decades, Gary F Martinez FAIA and Thomas E Johnson FAIA founded Martinez+Johnson Architecture in 1994 to bring their design sensitivities to institutional and cultural projects in urban locations. The 25-architect firm has since established an expertise in three main architectural areas – the restoration and adaptive reuse of historic structures, institutional buildings in urban areas and community settings, and the design and planning of performing arts venues.

Known for a thoughtful design approach to public facilities, M+J develops an intimate understanding of the needs of users, patrons, and operators destined to inhabit the projects of the firm. M+J looks to the future in their design aesthetic even when the context may be firmly rooted in the past and executes creative solutions to facilities both new and historic, where flexibility, ease of operation, and high but versatile performance characteristics are requisite. Venues express aspirational values and goals of the communities within which they are located, and at the same time conform to issues of economic value at the highest levels of environmental sustainability.

Plaza Theatre Performing Arts Center


Plaza Theatre Performing Arts Center

El Paso, Texas

The Plaza Theatre, was once known as ‘The Showcase of the Southwest’, is an atmospheric theatre that captures the quality of the desert sky. Built for vaudeville acts, the 2410-seat theatre became an oasis in the middle of the Great Depression. Builders H.T. Ponsford and Sons spared no expense, including paintings and sculptures worth thousands of dollars.



The initiative to rehabilitate the Plaza Theatre began as a public/private effort to provide a new home for the local symphony, performing arts organizations, and travelling musical/ theatrical groups. After M+J was selected as head architect in a national search, the project began with the development of a Master Plan.   This Master Plan included preparation of programming options; participation in community meetings and user interviews; expansion of backstage areas; improvement of loading facilities; modernization of lighting and sound systems; upgrades to electrical, HVAC, and plumbing systems; and restoration of interior finishes. All of these items were considered in reference to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards and Guidelines for Rehabilitation for the purpose of obtaining Historic Preservation Tax Credits.



Martinez+Johnson Architecture executed full service design and documents. M+J expanded the historic theatre’s stage house-renovating it to accommodate full theatrical shows, reconfigured loading operations, and created new performer support spaces.  Within the historic building complex, M+J created a second theatre of 250 seats for smaller performances. The renovations and additions to the venue make a stunning permanent home for major performing arts organizations and provide excellent settings for regional emerging arts organizations..

Owner: El Paso Community Foundation and City of El Paso, c/o Russell Hill

Completion: 2006

Size: 116,000SF

Cost: $26M

AWARDS: 2009 National Trust for Historic Preservation Honor Award

2010 Preservation Texas Preservation Honor Award  Historic Restoration Award

2012 texas top stops  #1 for 5,000 or fewer seating capacity


- The National Park Service | Common Ground Magazine Fall 2010