Diamond and Schmitt Architects break ground at New Mexico Highlands University
New Mexico Highlands University’s Las Vegas, N.M. campus broke ground yesterday for a new Student Union building designed by Diamond and Schmitt Architects of Toronto and partner Studio Southwest of Albuquerque, N. M. The three-storey 65,000 sq ft facility will serve as a centre-piece of student activity and provide expanded facilities to serve a growing student population.
Organised around a central atrium and sheltered outdoor courtyard, the student union connects with the wider community by making the lobby open and visible through the use of full height glazing. The ground floor contains a ballroom/conference facility, bookstore, café, theatre and post office. The upper floors include lounges, a games room, computer lab, student service offices, and meeting rooms. Holding a central position in the composition is a student governance room that floats within the atrium space, bridging both wings of the new building.
“The design is a contemporary expression of the character and landscape of the campus,” said Principal Donald Schmitt of Diamond and Schmitt Architects. Stone defines the building base and is combined with energy-efficient glazing that is carefully placed to maximise day lighting for the main public spaces. The third floor is set back under large extending roof planes, reducing the overall scale of the building and providing shade and covered terraces to the third floor occupants. Green roofs to the north provide rooftop assembly areas and spectacular views to the mountains beyond.
Following an integrated design process, the project is targeted to achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver certification. Sustainable design features include geothermal energy, architectural shading of south-facing glass by metal sunshades, high insulation values of roof (R-38) and wall (R-25) assemblies, high efficiency lighting, water harvesting and renewable wood sourcing.