The "Big I" Landscape

Location: Albuquerque, NM

Completed: 2010

The Big I Landscape is the single largest landscape project ever undertaken by the City of Albuquerque. With design and construction spanning a five-year period, the project required careful, multi-level management and meticulous attention to detail. The large site has extremely steep slopes and numerous viewing angles, presenting an exciting challenge to creating an aesthetically cohesive, maintenance friendly landscape. The design incorporates three distinct elements, or themes: (1) foothills gardens reminiscent of those found throughout the Rio Grande Valley, (2) linear orchards similar to those found in the historically agricultural areas of Central and Northern New Mexico, and (3) sweeping forms that mimic the arching flyovers and structural elements of the interchanges modern roadways. Striking artwork is incorporated throughout the project site to create focal points. Low voltage, programmable LED lighting helps accentuate and reinforce the landscape’s design themes. The success of the Big I Landscape has set a breakthrough precedent and has spurred the design and construction of additional similarly themed interstate landscaping projects throughout the City of Albuquerque.


Big I lighting 9.jpg

Interstate 25 - Exit 240, Avenida bernalillo

Location: Bernalillo, NM

Completed: 2014

In its previous condition, the site was a barren roadside that had been denuded by recent interstate construction.  The Town was left with a newly rebuilt interstate exit, but one that was visually offensive and unwelcoming to motorists.  We took inspiration from the square grid of adobe rooms at the ruins of nearby Kuaua Pueblo.  The bold form of these ruins would also be appropriate for use in a highway landscape being viewed by motorists at high speed.  The design uses a grid layout of these remnant rooms built out of adobe walls at varying heights and levels to suggest ruins that have been exposed and weathered over time.  The general contractor built the concrete footings and CMU substrate, then the Town's Youth Conservation Corps members laid the adobe blocks and caps.  The adobe blocks are "unstabilized", which means they will weather and essentially melt slowly over time to further reinforce the look of ancient ruin walls.

 


Isleta Pueblo NM 47 Streetscape

Location: Isleta Pueblo, NM

Completed: Master Plan: 2013; Phase I: In progress

The Isleta Gateways Project will transform the ordinary highway and commercial landscapes that currently greet travelers entering Isleta on state highways into gateways filled with iconic sculptures that celebrate the heritage and aspirations of the community's native people. These pieces of public art will relate to stories important to the tribe and give visitors an understanding of the importance water, earth, and agriculture have had for sustaining Isleta's society. MRWM worked with the Pueblo to create a master plan for the project, creating a set of culturally distinctive and visually engaging gateways where state highways cross into the Pueblo of Isleta. The project’s first phase, the northern entrance of State Highway 47, incorporates the talents of two of the Pueblo’s premier artists, Ron Olguin and Robin Teller. Olguin, working from paper models and inspired by the studies of light and shadow by European artists (such as Matisse, Van Gogh, and Picasso), will transcribe traditional ornamental designs found on Isleta's pottery into cutouts on large steel sheets. 


Lead and Coal Avenues Streetscape Improvements

Location: Albuquerque, NM

Completed: 2012

This project involved the re-design of Lead and Coal Avenues, a pair of heavily trafficked one-way principal arterials traversing nearly six miles of some of Albuquerque’s most historic neighborhoods. The streetscape improvements addressed concerns for safety and livability on these important Nob Hill-Downtown corridors. The design incorporated traffic calming, bicycle lanes, on-street parking, pedestrian and intersection improvements, signal and lighting upgrades, site furnishings, storm water harvesting, and considerable landscaping. This project was featured as an example of good streetscape design in the 2014 issue of the National Complete Streets Coalition's 'Dangerous by Design' publication. 


Albuquerque Median Prototypes 

Location: Albuquerque, NM

Completed: Ongoing since 2004

When initially conceived in 2004, the median prototypes project was aimed at quickly and efficiently landscaping Albuquerque’s bare and unfinished arterial streets.  The prototype concept is an MRWM developed innovation that has resulted in the landscaping of more than 70 miles of city medians in the last 9 years.  To  provide prototype choices applicable to the majority of Albuquerque’s streets, the project employs highly variable and adaptive modules that easily accommodate the widely varying lengths and widths of existing medians.  The unit of design is a 60’-0” or 200’-0” “pod.” These adaptable “pods” allow a large number of median prototypes to be quickly built by the City’s on-call landscape contractors.


Silver Hill Streetscape Renovation

Location: Albuquerque, NM

Completed: 2004

Morrow Reardon Wilkinson Miller, Ltd. provided master plan, schematic, design development and construction documents for beautification and community identity for the reforestation and streetscape improvements in the Silver Hill Historic District.  This project maintains the wonderful historic character of the neighborhood through the reestablishment of the canopy trees in the parkways and medians.  The extensive amount of information compiled during the data gathering phase of the project resulted in a program for the design of the streetscape improvements which encompasses a variety of related issues.  Through the design process, we were able to build a partnership between the County, the City and the neighborhood and develop a firm consensus on how the project would proceed.                    


West I-40 Median and Unser Bridge Lighting

Location: Albuquerque, NM

Completed: 2013

In 2004, MRWM developed the initial median prototype concept designs for interstate landscapes. Since that time, several of the prototype designs have been implemented, including landscape improvements at the Louisiana & I-40 Interchange; Interstate Medians east of San Mateo, at Eubank, and Juan Tabo exits; the San Mateo & I-40 Interchange; the Carlisle & I-40 Interchange; and the “Big I” landscape. While these landscapes have made a significant positive impact on the visual quality of  east I-40, little has been done to address the interstate landscapes on the west side of the City. In response to this need, the City of Albuquerque initiated the design of a landscaped median for I-40 between the Coors and 98th Street Interchanges. Working with the existing prototype designs, MRWM developed a concept appropriate to the surrounding environment of west I-40. Colored gravel mulch patterns reference the strong artistic theme of the nearby pedestrian bridge and sound barrier walls. The center of the median is treated as a dry streambed with check dams constructed of rock reminiscent of the nearby escarpment and harvesting available rainwater as a supplement to irrigation.  Trees and shrubs native or well-adapted to the west side of Albuquerque (including desert willow, honey locust, sand sage, yucca, and chamisa) are strategically placed to create undulating vertical and horizontal patterns within the ‘clear zone’ of the median, creating an attractive yet safe visual feature.  The overall landscape concept is less formal than the interstate landscapes on the more urban eastern side, but (especially with the addition of programmable LED lighting at the Unser Bridge) provides a welcoming and fluid gateway landscape for Albuquerque’s west entry. The bridge lighting was featured on the cover of  the March 2014 Issue of LD+A and received the 2013 Illumination Award of Merit from the Illuminating Engineering Society.