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Student Union Building


800 National Avenue



New Mexico Highlands University

Project Status


Year Completed



65,000 sq. feet
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Project Description

The new Student Union Building at New Mexico Highlands University is an innovative and highly sustainable building designed to respond to the American Southwest climate and connect the campus with the community of Las Vegas, New Mexico.

The building anchors a key intersection of the university and presents a series of interconnected and transparent volumes that are legible and inviting from the street. A mix of one- and two-storey spaces fulfills program requirements around a large three-storey atrium. A key feature is the 100-seat student and governance chamber council that floats above this central space; to enhance its presence, natural light washes the curved surface of the chamber drum.
The exterior cladding integrates black iron spot brick, Corten steel paneling and a glazed aluminum curtain wall. On three sides is one of the first motorized sun tracking louver systems in North America that protects the interior of the building from direct sunlight during the day and opens during the night. To maintain visibility and transparency at grade, the ground floor has interior blinds rather than the louver system.

The ground floor contains a versatile ballroom/conference facility, theatre, bookstore, café, post office and cafeteria that opens onto a sheltered courtyard. The upper floors include lounges, a computer lab, student services offices, meeting rooms, a dining area, the student governance chamber and a bridge to an adjacent library.

The third floor is set back under large extending roof planes that reduce the overall scale of the building and provide shade and covered terraces. Future green roofs provide rooftop assembly areas with views to the mountains beyond. The building is targeting LEED Gold certification and a geothermal well field is part of the mechanical energy system.
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