After nine months of construction that made one of the most heavily trafficked areas on campus inaccessible, the newly remodeled Smith Plaza was officially opened on Wednesday with a ribbon cutting ceremony.
The plaza was originally constructed in 1972 and hadn’t undergone any major changes since. One major factor motivating the remodel was safety. Among the new additions are wider ramps to make the plaza more accessible, easier access for emergency vehicles and four plateau areas for socialization.
The redesign was done by the Jaynes Corporation and designed by MRWM Landscape Architects, McClain + Yu Architects and Surface Design Inc.
“I think it’s beautiful, absolutely beautiful,” Stokes said about the new plaza. “I believe in the importance of these outdoor spaces on a campus, places for people to gather. I think being outside is an important part of maintaining good mental health.”
Being in the heart of campus, Stokes said she sees this space as the center of campus moving forward, and seems excited about that prospect as well.
“This is a beautiful part of campus, I like the fact that this would be the center” she said. “It’s close to the library too, that sends a good message.”
Originally the budget for the renovation was set at $3 million, with $2 million coming from the 2016 Institutional Bonds and the other $1 million from the 2017 Institutional bonds. The budget was expanded after Nusenda Credit Union made a $75,000 donation to name the “Lobo Landing” area, which will double as an amphitheater.
According to the Physical Plant Department and Student Affairs, a total of $35,000 was spent on furniture, with funds combined from the initial $3 million.
Associated Students of UNM President Becka Myers also spoke, thanking everyone involved with the project for making it a reality. She said the new space is something she thinks will create a positive environment and culture shift.
“Students are really excited to see something beautiful on campus in contrast to the old plaza,” Myers told the Daily Lobo. “This new landscape is something where students will definitely be able to spend more time and hang out, and I think that really creates a positive culture shift for all of campus as well.”
The design for the space was picked from one of four blueprints created by UNM students, faculty and staff, and was inspired by southwest landscape.
Tommy Doan, a freshman in the school of engineering, said that he likes the new space.
“Yeah (I’ll use it more); before it was just a place to pass by,” Doan said.
Doan also thinks that there will be more events and more people on Smith Plaza in the future, and that it may become the center gathering spot on campus.
Cameron Goeldner is a sports beat reporter and photographer for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers men’s soccer, women’s basketball, softball and the Albuquerque Isotopes, but also contributes content for baseball, basketball, football and track and field. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @goeldfinger.