The University of New Mexico’s Main Campus, like many other university campuses in the country, has been home to various innovative research-oriented sophisticated buildings that differ in their style, design and facilities.

Main Campus presents a range of architectural styles, from the adobe-styled Mesa Vista Hall to modern, high-tech architectural design of the Collaborative Teaching and Learning Building. The University recently added a high-tech, energy efficient and environmentally conscious engineering building to the list.

The Farris Engineering Center opened last month after nearly 18 months of construction and renovation. The renovated center houses the School of Engineering’s Chemical and Biological Engineering, Computer Science and Nuclear Engineering Departments.



The new $25.5 million building is one of the newest and more conceptually high-tech-designed buildings on campus that provides faculty, staff and student offices, server rooms, waiting areas outside faculty offices, conference and meeting rooms and event space for the three departments.

Adnan Bashir, a computer science graduate student, said the FEC is one of the few, if not the most, environmentally conscious buildings at UNM.

“This center seems, though not exactly, kind of the first and only ‘passive’ (buildings) at the campus, meaning it uses little energy to light and heat the interior,” Bashir said.

The most noticeable differences between the old and the renovated buildings, other than high-tech facilities, are the glassy outlook, large windows, the exterior and interior design, natural light, modern furniture and proxy card entrance. The old building had very small windows and little sunlight.

“The old building was not a good place to work. It was awful,” said Abhaya K. Datye, the chair of the Chemical & Biochemical Engineering Department.

Keeping in mind the old small windows, the design team for the renovated building has introduced large electrochromic windows that electronically lighten and darken to manage sunlight without impeding the views of the campus.

“The beauty of it is now that we can look outside, get the light, but hopefully not be bothered by the sun,” Datye said.

The building also does not have any fumes or chemicals, according to Datye.

The FEC has no classrooms or labs, but offices and working and sitting spaces for the faculty, research and adjunct professors, postdoctoral researchers and students. All of the labs from the old building were shifted to Centennial and South Campus during the first phase of the project.

“The dean is raising money for (UNM’s motorsports engineering-design team) Formula SAE, for the mechanical engineers to create a makerspace where engineers can build something,” Datye said, referring to the future of the basement.

The new center offers various spaces for students to do group work.

“They have space now to sit and work — this is really a very student-centric center,” Datye said.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony has been planned for March 1 — the day Garnett S. Stokes, the new President of the University, begins her term.

Tasawar Shah is a news reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at news@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @tashah_80.