CNM’s Smith Brasher Hall

Location: Albuquerque, NM

Completed: 2017

with FBT Architects

CNM’s Smith Brasher Hall, located at the corner of Coal and University, is a LEED Gold certified project that incorporates many sustainable features into the landscape for the renovated building and parking lots.

MRWM coordinated with the project architects and engineers to create an innovative water harvesting landscape that provides many benefits for the site and watershed.  A series of Green Stormwater Infrastructure features includes bioninfiltration basins, soil sponges, stormwater tree trenches, a swale, and check dams. These features capture and clean runoff from the roof and parking lots, decrease runoff leaving the site, improve tree health and resiliency, and reduce the use of potable water for irrigation.

The two large bioinfiltration basins are planted with native trees, grasses and wildflowers, showcasing the beauty of local vegetation and providing habitat for birds and pollinators. Stormwater tree trenches in the parking lots support large trees, which shade the parking lot and reduce the heat released by asphalt. Other sustainable features at the site include geothermal heating and cooling systems and solar panels.

CNM "A" Building Courtyard Renovation

Location: Albuquerque, NM

Completed: 2014


On the north edge of CNM's Main Campus, the "A" Building Courtyard was outdated and burdened with deteriorating infrastructure, non-compliant accessibility, poor drainage, safety concerns, and general wear and tear. It was also the victim of decades of piecemeal architecture surrounding the plaza, where each new building ignored its relationship to previous adjacent buildings. 

Our challenge was to connect each of these disparate architectural works, including buildings with 8 different finish floor elevations. The result is a refreshed space that strengthens the interaction between the plaza and adjacent buildings, creates a key destination on the north side of campus, and functions as a gathering space for students of the College and Career High School and events at the adjacent Coal Avenue Theater. 

The project incorporates a number of sustainable features, including permeable pavers, efficient LED fixtures, a green screen, recycled materials and low-maintenance xeric plantings.

CNM Jeanette Stromberg building landscape renovation and plaza

Location: Albuquerque, NM

Completed: 2012

with FBT Architects

MRWM collaborated with FBT Architects on this renovation project, providing an overall schematic landscape master plan for the new outdoor plaza south of the Jeannette Stromberg building.  The plaza will serve as the central hub of CNM’s main campus, with strong connections between surrounding buildings, pedestrian thoroughfares, and public spaces.  

MRWM also provided complete planting and irrigation design for the detailed renovation of the Jeannette Stromberg Building landscape and Phase I of the new outdoor plaza and greenspace adjacent to the building’s south entry.  

Further development of the outdoor plaza area, based on the master plan is planned for the future.

NMSU Zuhl Library

Location: Las Cruces, NM

Completed: 1990

MRWM completed this comprehensive landscape design for the Zuhl Library plaza at New Mexico State University. The California fan palms and their courtyard were designed in a grid pattern inspired by the elegant columns of the Great Mosque at Cordova, in Spain. The palms provide a canopy of full shade throughout most of the year, and a lush foreground for the stately library building.

NMSU McFie Circle - master plan, phases I & II

Location: Las Cruces, NM

Completed: 2016

McFie Circle is at the center of the New Mexico State University campus. A vibrant and busy core with competing pedestrian, bicycle and vehicular requirements, the University was in need of a renovation solution that streamlined circulation and created an attractive campus core with a clear hierarchy between all modes of transportation. MRWM met with twelve NMSU stakeholder groups to gain a clear understanding of the needs of each group and to resolve conflicts when they arose. MRWM created a generous twenty foot pedestrian and bicycle thoroughfare that accommodates emergency, maintenance and service vehicles. The project uses attractive pavement patterns to clearly define the space as a pedestrian and bicycle corridor and keep it from feeling like a roadway. Colored concrete with a specialty finish is punctuated with contrasting pavers at intersections, which work together to create a cohesive hardscape that smoothly connects existing buildings, plazuelas and a future central lawn. Vehicular service and maintenance access is strategically integrated without interfering with the flow of pedestrian and bicycle traffic. The walkway incorporates symbols and striping to delineate lanes for pedestrians and bicycles. Shade trees line each side of the walk, providing a strong sense of space and much needed shade. New pedestrian lighting and new site furnishings further unite the large campus center.

This project began as a master planning project that included significant university stakeholder involvement. MRWM led these efforts, successfully incorporating the multiple needs and requirements into the final plan. The master plan includes removal of a parking lot in the heart of the NMSU campus and turning it into a multi-use green space, which will be constructed in Phase III. The first phase of construction was completed in May 2016. MRWM worked with NMSU to design the second phase of construction, which was completed in May 2017.

Ruidoso Middle School

Location: Ruidoso, NM

Completed: 2012

MRWM was the prime consultant for this project, and as such was responsible for thedesign and construction observation of numerous improvements to the campus of this new middle school in the mountains near Ruidoso. 

The school was built in 2009, but only minimal site improvements were made at the time of initial construction, so there were few outdoor amenities for the students. Additionally, erosion was prevalent on numerous steep slopes throughout the campus that were disturbed by the construction. 

MRWM led a team of consultants that included structural and civil engineers, architects, and electrical engineers.  The project scope included three major components: 

  • the design of outdoor gathering areas and classrooms, two synthetic turf fields for passive recreation, and a nature inspired play area; 
  • the redesign of the main access road and existing bus drop off area to improve bus and student circulation; and
  • the design of a new synthetic turf athletic field including lighting, a ticketing and spectator plaza, grading and drainage improvements and a new storage building. 

The landscape design also addressed the drainage and erosion issues and increased passive water harvesting opportunities while keeping maintenance requirements low. 

Revegetation seeding was specified to mitigate disturbance from the original school construction, and great care was taken to select plant material that was appropriate to the region, allowing it to survive during periods of restricted water use.

UNM Smith Plaza/Union Square Renovation

Location: Albuquerque, NM

Completed: 2018

Team: McCLain + Yu Architecture & Design, Surfacedesign, Inc. 

Related blog posts: The Renovation of Smith Plaza

Recognition: Merit Award in Urban Design, 2018 AIA Albuquerque Architectural Design Awards

The University of New Mexico’s Smith Plaza Renovation activated the heart of campus by engaging students, faculty, and the community, and providing a welcoming outdoor “great room.” The 3.3-acre site has served as UNM’s central paved gathering space since 1973 and is the most heavily used pedestrian space on campus. It hosts numerous student life functions and is the front door to the historic Zimmerman Library. In addition to poor accessibility and deteriorating infrastructure, the plaza was inhospitable to daily use due to lack of shade and amenities. MRWM led a collaborative team of landscape architects and architects to develop a design that enhances the space for both academic and social activities, expands opportunities for events, and dramatically improves accessibility. The design replaced a vast, exposed brick plaza with outdoor rooms, providing shade and seating for individuals and groups, a performance space and moveable furniture. The plaza is now constantly occupied.

University of New Mexico Alumni Chapel

Location: Albuquerque, NM

Completed: 2013

MRWM worked closely with the Alumni Association and University Landscape Architect on the renovation of the historic University of New Mexico Alumni Chapel. The landscape resets this striking piece of architecture in a culturally and historically appropriate context.

The project consists of the redesign of the Chapel forecourt and the addition of a ‘celebratory wall’ and walkway.  The celebratory wall is designed to display donors’ photographs of memorable events held at this important University landmark.  The forecourt was expanded, creating much-needed flexible exterior gathering space and seating for chapel events.

The landscape design is simple and elegant, and in keeping with the chapel’s historic Franciscan Mission architectural style. Referencing traditional landscape features, the forecourt includes flagstone paving, a rose garden, a stone fountain, and a mini-orchard of non-fruiting crabapple trees.

MRWM controlled costs on this project through value engineering that included a reduction in the area of the concrete walk by limiting the walk to critical extents. Further cost savings were made by having the contractor build the fountain rather than specifying a pre-manufactured product. An additive alternate was developed for the back of the Chapel to take advantage of available construction funds if the bid came in lower than expected. 

UNM college of Education Building

Location: Albuquerque, NM

Completed: 2010

with Gregory T. Hicks and Associates

The first LEED Platinum certified project in New Mexico, the UNM College of Education is a new addition to the existing College of Education building on the main UNM campus.

The landscape design contributes to the LEED certification through its water efficiency, recycled content, use of regional materials, restoration of habitat through site development, storm water design quantity and quality control and the inclusion of bicycle storage.

The design takes the usual pond-like storm water detention pond required for new buildings and transforms it into a long channel that winds around the building. This is not only more aesthetically interesting, but also allows more water to infiltrate and reach adjacent plants. Plant selection was carefully considered to match the existing campus aesthetic, be vandal resistant, provide year-round interest and be low maintenance.