Architecture of The Lower Rio Grande Valley (ALRGV) Project

September 05, 2016  •  Leave a Comment



The ALRGV project is the first effort of its kind to create a comprehensive search engine optimized (SEO) visual database of building structures that are of architectural and/or historical significance within the four counties of the Texas-Mexico border region —  Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr & Willacy.


Stephen Fox, architectural historian,  Fellow of the Anchorage Foundation of Texas provided a list of 421 structures (173 residential and 248 non-residential) as a starting point for the project.  Given the steady activity in the construction industry in the RGV, the database is updated on a periodic basis. An additional 150 structures from across the border will also be included once the crime rate in Mexico subsides to normal levels.

The database consists of photographs of the structures I have taken and when available, includes information on the year built, architect, name of the structure, purpose of the structure, architectural style, etc.  Narratives for the structure are from a variety of sources. If firms other than the architect request inclusion of their name and role/function, upon verification by the architect firm or structure owner, such information may be included in the database. To have your structure considered for inclusion, see section titled 'HOW TO SUBMIT YOUR STRUCTURE' below.

UTRGV, Student Union Building, Edinburg, TexasUTRGV, Student Union Building, Edinburg, Texas


  1. 'Architecture of The Lower Rio Grande Valley:  Digital' — this is the overarching project and is online.  Given the flexibility and highly-visual delivery of the digital format with no limitations for content (as a printed book), the website is being populated with information on all the structures. The ALRGV Digital project is ongoing, and my goal is to make it the leading reference source for anyone looking for a visual database of architecture in the RGV.
  2. 'Architecture of The Lower Rio Grande Valley:  An Introduction' in print and eBook format

    December 16, 2016, marks the release of an eBook and photo album titled ‘Architecture of The Lower Rio Grande Valley: An Introduction’ by Pino Shah, Stephen Fox and Rochelle Hawk. This introductory publication showcases 40 commercial and institutional structures on the U.S. side of the border built between 1841 and 2016.

    eBook format available for immediate download on:

    Amazon Kindle available in 13 countries $9.99

    Apple iBooks available in 51 countries $9.99

    The photo album format, rather than offset printing, which emphasizes architectural photographs accompanied by informative text is printed on professional photographic paper and bound together as a photo album. The photo album 12.5”x10”, 44 pages, may be ordered through email, and is delivered in three weeks.  Please send $200 (inclusive of shipping and sales tax) via PayPal to

  3. 'Architecture of The Rio Grande Valley:  Vol I - IV' — in print and eBook format (to be released through 2017-2018) with structures organized as follows:

    Volume I - Eighteenth and nineteenth centuries corresponding to Mexican vernacular, Anglo-American vernacular, and the Border Brick Style.
    Volume II - 1900-1945 corresponding to the California Mission style, Craftsman style, Spanish Mediterranean style, and Regionalism.
    Volume III - 1945-1999 corresponding to Modern architecture.
    Volume IV - Twenty-first century corresponding to Postmodernism and Neo-modernism.
  4. Individual Books -- in print and eBook formats.  Book on Quinta Mazatlan is the first of the series of books.
  5. Exhibitions -- please check blog for upcoming exhibition dates.
  6. Photocards -- low cost photocards with narratives available in packs of 25 (of the same structure) customized with your message. Weslaco Historic City Hall Restoration.  Negrete & KolarWeslaco Historic City Hall Restoration. Negrete & KolarThis project was an exterior restoration of an existing 1920’s era historic city hall
    and fire station building. Work consisted of waterproofing existing windows, rebuilding deteriorating façade over front entrance, and completely removing and reinstalling historic barrel tile roof after waterproofing substrate.
    A local stucco artist was commissioned to restore ornate window frames and
    the building eave’s decorative frieze and stylized frontispiece.
    Structural Engineering | Solorio & Associates
    MEP Engineering | Unitech Engineering
    Landscape Architecture | SSP Design


Please email the following information:

  1. Name of the structure

  2. Purpose of the structure

  3. Location of the structure — address that Google Maps would find

  4. One picture of the structure to help me identify it when I visit it

  5. Narrative — 50-75 words, URL for any online information on the structure that includes year built

  6. Architect or firm name as you would like to have displayed. For firms other than the architect, please ask architect or structure owner to email me a simple statement indicating your firm's role in the project

  7. Contact name, number and email — there are other architectural-related books in the works and it would be nice to have one person from your organization as a contact — who will coordinate access to the structure for interior shots

At this time, any submitted structure(s) will be considered for inclusion in the eBook and on the website for 2016 and for the 2017 printed book


Deval 'Pino' Shah,, (956) 492-7140 or (310) 651-8980


As the photographer, the authorship (ownership) belongs to Deval 'Pino' Shah or 'Pino Shah' or 'ArtByPino.'  Images may not be reproduced or downloaded without express written permission.  Linkbacks to the images are permissible — using the url where the image appears.  License to use the image is available as follows:

  1. Online, web usage with a text watermark of '@ArtByPino' on bottom right of the image is a one-time fee of $100 per image. Image may not be altered in any way and it cannot be cropped. You will be provided with a high-resolution copy of the image that displays appropriately on retina type displays.

  2. Print usage with a text crediting '@ArtByPino' in immediate proximity to the image is a one-time fee of $250 per image for one time use for a single purpose. For a perpetual license for unlimited use, please email Image may not be altered in any way and it cannot be cropped. You will be provided a 300dpi image in jpg or tiff format. Please specify color format if known; by default, sRGB will be provided. You also will be provided with a high-resolution copy of the image with a text watermark of '@ArtByPino' on the bottom right of the image for online display. The high-resolution version displays appropriately on retina type displays.


All the books/photo albums and eBooks listed are ~70% photographs and ~30% text and written for 5th grader and beyond audience.

The books are printed as a photo album (as opposed to offset printing) where each page is an actual photograph. The photographs are printed and bound at a professional photo lab to ensure the highest quality of prints.

Given that the photographs are shot at high resolution, prints of sizes up to a billboard and on diverse mediums including canvas and metal are possible


One word — 'insanity.'  Just kidding.  Passion, along with a desire to reach out to the future decision-makers of our RGV that will mold it for generations to come by the architectural choices they make. Today, I do not know of any architectural book that is designed for the younger generation, aka the 'Heads Down' generation; hence, a highly-visual book that also will be released in eBook form.

La Lomita Chapel, Mission, TexasLa Lomita Chapel, Mission, Texas


  1. Online — everything from to ads appearing in mobile applications, mobile websites and desktop.  With best SEO techniques applied to content, these images are highly likely to appear at the top of search results across the globe.

  2. Legacy — press releases, media interviews..

  3. Exhibitions — in the RGV, outside the RGV (in the US) and overseas.

  4. Most powerful channel — word of mouth.

  5. Low-cost photographic prints, posters, etc. — ever visit the airport gift store or Barnes & Noble and try to purchase a current picture of Valley Landmarks? Through low-cost photographic prints, create an awareness whereby folks realize that the picture they are holding is in their RGV and that the RGV has an architectural treasure trove that is within their reach. Available at by clicking/hovering over any image.

  6. Educational channel — reaching out to school districts with a curriculum designed around the structures displayed online, making it easy for the teachers. Many school districts have tablets issued to students. By having the eBook, children can view stunning images of the structures and read the narration.

  7. Speaking engagements — through local museums, chambers of commerce...

  8. Through 'Architecture on Canvas Rentals' — various structures printed on canvas in sizes 16x20 and above available for rent. Airports, restaurants, hotels, banks, offices, meeting halls, etc., will be able to change out their art every four months.

Echo Hotel, Edinburg, TexasEcho Hotel, Edinburg, Texas


  1. Folks who can accurately help me identify the architectural style of a structure.

  2. Writers who are willing to research the history, significance of a structure and write a ~75 word narrative for structures.

  3. I am looking for educators with experience in curriculum development to help me create a TEKS compliant Social Studies curriculum for fifth graders that is based on the database.

  4. Influence — if you have been blessed with a position of influence, I could use your help getting the word out and overcoming the stumbling blocks in accessing buildings in the public domain.

  5. Sponsorship for publications available after the publication is complete.


Please share this post with others who may be interested.

Let me know if you would like to meet to review what the Photo Book (sample), Photocards and Architecture on Canvas look like. I can be reached (9 a.m. to 7 p.m.) at (956) 492-7140, .

Thank you!


La Central Intermodal Transit Terminal.  Negrete & KolarLa Central Intermodal Transit Terminal. Negrete & KolarThe MITT facility serves as a central arrival and departure terminal for local,
interstate and international bus services. It is a one-story, 22,500 square-foot
Structural Engineering | Solorio & Associates
MEP Engineering | Halff & Associates, Inc
Landscape Architecture | SSP Design


No comments posted.
January February March April May June July August September (1) October (1) November (2) December (2)
January February March April (1) May (2) June July August September October November December