Antoine Predock's new School of Architecture and Planning in New Mexico
The new School of Architecture and Planning at the University of New Mexico is driven by the necessity of making a building that inspires and teaches students about the potential of architecture. This notion is intersected with the desire to allow the building to be shaped by specific environmental, urban and campus forces. Additionally, the timeless relationships between building and environment from the cliffs of Canyon de Chelly to the mute, powerfull walls of Anasazi architecture, conceptually and materially inform our project. The building optimizes envelope while still incorporating these forces.
Believing that a student can be engaged and actively learn from the intrinsic qualities of the spaces in which they work, the project accomplishes this on a multitude of levels. First, by revealing infrastructure and environmental systems such as the cooling tower/solar engine loop. Second, by demonstrating how plan and section are connected in a complex relationship linking light, spatial flows and structure. This is most clearly evidenced where the studios and seminar rooms form a layered canyon of modulated light. Third, places like the ‘hanging’ seminar rooms and the rooftop terraces call into question the conventional occupation and programming of space.
The articulated wall on Central Avenue becomes a new abstract sign along Route 66. Its solar apertures relate to moments of equinox and solstice throughout the year. Nomadic occupation of the studios and the possibility of student encampments on the terraces contrast the physicality and permanence of the concrete wall. Following the campus design directives, the massing and color of the building exterior relates directly to the stepped forms and the earth-colored stucco that define and bring cohesion to the UNM campus.