Nationally-recognized architecture and planning firm Gould Evans, together with Albuquerque-based architecture and planning firm Design Plus LLC, has received a 2016 Excellence in Architecture Merit Award from the Society for College and University Planning and the American Institute of Architects Committee on Architecture for Education (SCUP/AIA CAE) for the Central New Mexico Community College (CNM) Westside I Building located in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This nationwide awards program recognizes strategic, integrated planning and design for higher education institutions.

The Westside I building was designed as a pilot project to implement CNM’s paradigm shift to a more interactive approach to education that serves the needs of its commuter student population. During programming, Gould Evans and Design Plus collaborated with a progressive group of deans and campus architects in order to imagine alternative ways that academic services and faculty interaction could be integrated into the busy daily routines of students.

Two innovative design strategies that emerged out of this collaboration – the Learning Commons Loop and the Faculty Office Pod – put the student educational experience front and center. The Learning Commons Loop is the main organizer of the building, encompassing circulation and spaces for tutoring, computer usage, social gathering and study. It circles around the entire floor plate, immersing students in the breadth of available academic resources. The Faculty Office Pod rethinks the standard office model to create collaborative opportunities among faculty, and encourage a more impromptu way for students and faculty to cross paths. 

“This visionary team of architects created a building that is helping us push the envelope in education design towards better serving the needs of students,” said Luis Campos, Executive Director of Physical Plant for Central New Mexico Community College.

The jury for the 2016 SCUP/AIA-CAE Excellence in Architecture Awards remarked on the building’s “inviting [character], gracious spaces, elegant simplicity and straightforward floor plan.” Jury members included Jean Caroon, FAIA (Chair), Principal at Goody Clancy; Dean Gregory, ASLA, Campus Landscape Architect at the University of British Columbia; David Hollenberg, AIA, University Architect at The University of Pennsylvania; Howard Wertheimer, FAIA, Director of Capital Planning & Space Management at Georgia Institute of Technology; Steven Wiesenthal, FAIA, University Architect at the University of Chicago; and Karen Wolfert, AIA, Campus Planner and Architect at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.