Elegant, compelling landscape solutions for over 45 years

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 create 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 interchange's 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.

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 of Bernalillo 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, knowing that 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.  

After the general contractor built the concrete footings and CMU substrate, the Town's Youth Conservation Corps members laid the adobe blocks and caps.  The adobe blocks are deliberately "unstabilized", so that they will weather and slowly melt 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 transforms the ordinary highway and commercial landscapes that currently greet travelers entering the Pueblo of Isleta from state highways.

These entryways are filled with iconic sculptures that celebrate the heritage and aspirations of the community's native people. The public art relates to stories that are significant to the tribe, and it gives visitors an understanding of the importance water, earth, and agriculture have had in sustaining Isleta's society.

MRWM worked with the Pueblo of Isleta to create a master plan for the project, creating a set of culturally distinctive and visually engaging nodes where state highways cross into the Pueblo. 

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, transcribes 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 major project involved the re-design of Lead and Coal Avenues, a pair of heavily traveled one-way principal arterials through nearly six miles of some of Albuquerque’s most historic neighborhoods.

The streetscape improvements addressed quality of life 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.

Each neighborhood is celebrated with its own distinctive signage and planting palette.

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

This innovative streetscape prototype concept was developed by MRWM and has resulted in the landscaping of more than 70 miles of City of Albuquerque medians in the last 9 years.

When this undertaking was conceived in 2004, the city was struggling to build out its many miles of bare street medians. The very wide and often featureless nature of the roadways, coupled with lack of tree canopy in this high desert environment made a fast and cost-effective approach particularly necessary. The median prototypes project was aimed at quickly and efficiently solving the problem of landscaping these exposed and unfinished arterial streets.  

MRWM adopted a modular solution to  provide a variety of prototype choices applicable to the majority of Albuquerque’s streets. The widely varying lengths and widths of existing medians can easily be accommodated by the standard unit 'pods' of 60' or 200', which in turn can be made highly variable in their planting palettes and tailored to many diffeent sites. The underlying standardization of the designs allows  large numbers of medians to be quickly priced and built by the City’s on-call landscape contractors, while giving the neighborhood residents the opportunity to decide on design choices.

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.    The extensive information compiled during the data gathering phase of the project resulted in a program for a design of streetscape improvements which encompass 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.       

This project maintains the wonderful historic character of the neighborhood through the reestablishment of the canopy trees in the parkways and medians.

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. A number of the prototype designs have been implemented around Albuquerque, 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 ofeast I-40, little had 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 new concept appropriate to theenvironmental context of west I-40.

Colored gravel mulch patterns reference the strong artistic themes of the nearby pedestrian bridge and sound barrier walls. The center of the median is treated as a dry stream bed with traditional check dams constructed of rock that harvest available rainwater as a supplement to irrigation. 

Trees and shrubs, native or well-adapted to the conditions on the west side of Albuquerque are strategically placed to create undulating vertical and horizontal patterns within the ‘clear sight zone’ of the median, creating an attractive yet safe visual feature.  Plantings include desert willow, honey locust, sand sage, yucca, and chamisa.

The overall landscape concept is less formal than the interstate landscapes on the more urban eastern side, but provides a welcoming and fluid gateway landscape for Albuquerque’s west entry, especially with the addition of programmable LED lighting at the Unser Bridge.

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.