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The Board of Regents session commences while the rain pours outside on Sept. 13. 

Construction, remodel and loss of parking loom over Regents

The University of New Mexico’s Board of Regents gathered in Scholes Hall on Wednesday, Sept. 13 for a meeting where they discussed and heard presentations on upcoming decisions but made no formal choices.

A majority of the time was spent talking about property development. The Board is in deliberations with SASAKI – an architecture firm headquartered in Massachusetts that has worked on various universities with sleek, modern designs that often incorporate the surrounding environment. SASAKI is about to enter the third and final phase of an Integrated Campus Plan (ICP) for UNM, Teresa Costantinidis, UNM's executive VP of finance and administration, said.

This plan hinges on losing parking in North Campus; it prioritizes connecting the North, South and Central campuses by developing the parking in North Campus. SASAKI ultimately wants to use 350 acres of land on main campus for the project.

Currently, there are about 5,000 vacant parking spots on campus, according to a ICP parking audit from last spring. Costantinidis discussed how they would want to focus on the shuttle system moving forward. “But importantly, really consider how we service that parking and a safe and efficient shuttle system,” Costantinidis said.

Regent Randy Ko asked the room to raise their hands based on who had struggled to find parking and a few hands around the room were cautiously raised. Ko proposed underground parking as an alternative to the current loss the ICP creates.

Another option could be more structured parking, for example, Cornell near Popejoy. Both of these options, structured or underground, are more expensive than the traditional parking lot.

Some of this land, currently covered with people’s cars, is zoned for mixed use. A bunch of uses are approved by the city rather than just retail. For example, a potential use could be housing, Costantinidis said. A presented plan for North and South Campus would double the existing capacity, mainly by losing parking, and open 4,800,000 square feet of residential or mixed-use zoned property for development.

Other plans included redoing the portion of Lomas that separates North and Central campuses as well as adding bike lanes and parking with reduced car lanes and widened sidewalks. 

There are also plans presented to remodel Redondo to be a shared street that could be shut off from vehicle use and restricted to pedestrians. Costantinidis said their team didn't yet have data on the traffic flow in the area.

The Regents were also in conversation with Benjamin Gilmartin from Diller Scofidio + Renfro, an architecture firm based in New York that designed the Highline in New York, and the Lincoln Center in D.C. Gilmartin said the team plans to break the ground of A Lot in front of Johnson Field in Sept. of 2024 to build the Center for Collaborative Arts & Technology Building.

Dean of the Fine Arts College, Harris Smith, said this project is long overdue for the college as students are only allowed one performance opportunity in Popejoy. Keller Hall has a much smaller capacity; the CCAT Building would create an in-between controlled by the University rather than a commercial entity like Popejoy.

“We're talking about a learning space for performances. One of the things that leaks on top is just students performing. Learning and performing and that repetition is really, really hard to do with spaces that college does not control as a learning environment. Currently in Popejoy, they (students) get one shot at performing,” Smith said.

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The rapid construction process is because of the funding source of the project being a state-funded project that has a deadline. Aside from a performance space, the building will also feature public spaces, an arts lab, a sound stage, classrooms and gallery space.

Both the discussion of the CCAT and the ICP brought up the question of style. A 1999 Regents regulation stipulates that campus architecture must be done in a Pueblo Revival style, however, other writing around the regulations has followed.

“All buildings constructed on the Central Campus continue to be designed in the Pueblo Revival style and that buildings on the North and South campuses reflect the general character of this style to the extent possible,” the 1999 policy reads.

The most recent is from 2009 from the UNM Master Plan update which acknowledges the 1999 rule but sees it as a “point of departure.” It also acknowledges the variety in buildings that already exist across campus.

“The campus should be distinctive and inviting, activated and contemplative. UNM can achieve its strategic goals by building on its strong architectural identity with functional, flexible, high-performance buildings that are uniquely New Mexican,” the 2009 Master Plan update reads.

Guidelines in 2007 said “major additions should not be confused with historic structures of earlier eras,” but that all buildings should be cognizant of the historic style and match the “sense of place.” The regents asked for time to educate themselves and come up with a decision on their interpretation for the upcoming ICP and CCAT projects style-wise. 

Maddie Pukite is the editor-in-chief at the Daily Lobo. They can be contacted at on Twitter @maddogpukite

9/20/2023 Editors Note: A prior version of this article stated that Teresa Costantinidis was with SASAKI, she is in fact UNM's executive VP of finance and administration 

9/23/2023 Editors Notes:  

A prior version of this article incorrectly stated that “there are about 5,000 parking spots on campus.” The ICP’s parking audit instead found that there were 5,000 vacant parking spaces last spring.  

A prior version of this article quoted  “a safe and efficient shuttle system,” incorrectly as “admission shuttle system.” It has since been corrected. 

In a prior version of this article, Keller Hall, the smaller performance venue the College of Fine Arts students have access to perform in, was incorrectly labeled as George Pearl Hall, which the CFA does not use.  

In a prior version of this article Benjamin Gilmartin who is with Diller Scofidio + Renfro an architecture firm based in New York, that designed the Highline in New York, and the Lincoln Center in D.C, was incorrectly labeled as being from Roma Architecture, a firm in Albuquerque, that designed George Pearl Hall and the Cornell Parking Structure.  

The plans to remodel Redondo could shut off private vehicle use, except for special events and otherwise restrict the street to University-authorized vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists. 

Maddie Pukite

Maddie Pukite is the 2023-2024 editor of the Daily Lobo. 

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