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.