UNM Engineering, Architecture Occupy New Quarters

The University of New Mexico’s campus keeps getting more attractive, thanks to the addition of buildings that are also strengthening the university’s engineering and architecture programs.

In September 2008, the four-story Centennial Engineering Center opened its doors. About 1,800 students and 100 faculty members are occupying the 147,500-square-foot, $43 million facility, which replaced several old buildings the School of Engineering was using.

“It gives us a great deal more room, and there are very open facilities so students can interact with each other,” says Joseph Cecchi, dean. “That creates a lot of synergy. We also have a 200-seat auditorium we didn’t have before, and that allows us to host distinguished speakers and other events.”

Another new feature is a commons area where students from all departments can study and congregate. “There are windows on three sides overlooking campus, and the whole building has Wi-Fi,” Cecchi says.

Conceptual planning began eight years ago, and ground was broken in September 2006. The building and its furnishings were paid for by state funding, private gifts and through the fundrais­ing efforts of the Engineering Regional Leadership Committee.

Vicki Mora, a member of the committee and chief executive officer of Associated General Contractors in New Mexico, helped garner community support. The committee raised $2 million to outfit the building, and AGC donated $50,000.

“What’s most exciting about the building is it reflects the design and dynamics of construction management, which is a very exciting and sophisticated profession,” Mora says. “The building is visual representation of the profession and helps people see what a degree in engineering really means.”

Build It, They Will Come
One of the immediate benchmarks for the Centennial Engineering Center’s success was an increase in enrollment in the School of Engineering. “It was extremely exciting to see enrollment up following the building’s construction,” Mora says.

There are several aspects of the building the School of Engineering is especially proud of, including energy-efficient design, a hydraulics laboratory, and bioengineering and struc­tures labs. “CEC has special controls to increase energy efficiency in lab areas with once-through air, recycled materials were used in the concrete and steel structure, and there is multilevel switching for lights and exterior solar shading,” says Karen Wentworth, senior university communication representative for UNM. “The new hydraulics lab has the ability to simulate flow through drainage channels, and the civil engineering students work on contract with the Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority to test new designs for use in the city’s drainage channels.”

“[CEC] adds greatly to the beauty of the campus,” Cecchi says.

That’s also true for George Pearl Hall, which was dedicated in October 2007 and opened in January 2008.

The building is home of the School of Architecture and Planning and its 400 students. Also housed there is the UNM Fine Arts and Design Library.

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