Cruising down Albuquerque's Central Avenue, a fragment of the old Route 66, motorists glimpse an interesting sight: a two-story movie screen attached to a 108,000-square-foot university building. A throwback to the drive-in and a showcase for student video projects, the screen is a calling card for Antoine Predock Architect's new School of Architecture & Planning at the University of New Mexico.
The building had to accomplish many objectives, dean Roger Schluntz recalls. It had to provide a new face for the university along Route 66; complement the campus's ubiquitous Pueblo Revival architecture; and espouse modern design principles. It had to provide instructional space, build community, house a library, and answer the myriad needs of an architecture school.
This could have led to disjointed results, but Predock has crafted an open, unified space, with studios and critique space organized around a three-story well. Balconies, stairs, and a bridge encourage what Predock calls "visual eavesdropping," fostering social interaction and an environment in which students can learn from instructors and each other.