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PAIS Construction at Halfway Point

 The new Physics, Astronomy & Interdisciplinary Science Center currently at the halfway point of completion. 

Progress continues on PAIS building

Nearly a year after officially breaking ground the Physics & Astronomy and Interdisciplinary Science (PAÍS) building at the University of New Mexico has passed the halfway point of construction.

Located on the site of a former City of Albuquerque water reservoir at the northeast intersection of Yale Boulevard and Redondo Drive, the construction site is difficult to miss. Following the ceremonial groundbreaking on March 20, 2018, construction crews have been on site five days a week erecting steel, installing electrical, plumbing, mechanical systems and assorted other construction work. 

Sarah Scott, communication and outreach specialist with UNM’s Institutional Support Services, said the construction is on schedule and on budget.

“PAÍS is 63 percent complete,” Scott said, adding that the move-in for departments will take place in September.

The building, designed by Albuquerque-based Van H. Gilbert Architects and Einhorn Yaffee Prescott Architecture & Engineering's Boston-based Science & Technology team, will integrate well with the Pueblo revival architecture that dominates much of main campus, according to Scott.

When complete, PAÍS will be home to nearly 140,000 square feet of classrooms, offices and laboratory space designed for interdisciplinary student and faculty collaboration, according to a UNM press release

The building will also house a high performance space that meets top standards for vibration and electromagnetic interference criteria due to the sensitive nature of the experimentation and research that will take place in the labs.

The research done at the new facility will involve a number of departments, reflecting the Spanish word “país,” meaning country or nation, that was chosen as the building’s moniker. Anthropology, Chemistry, Chemical Biology, Earth and Planetary Sciences, Geography and Environmental Studies, Engineering, and Health Sciences will all be represented in the interdisciplinary academic vision.

The state-of-the-art science facility will replace the aging Physics and Astronomy building on North Campus. According to Scott, the old space housing the department will be demolished to allow plans for the expansion of UNM Hospital to go forward.

Andrew Gunn is a freelance reporter for the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted by email at or on Twitter @agunnwrites. 

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