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The New Age Academia
30 January 2012,
Feast thine eyes on Atrisco Heritage Academy (AHAHS), a high school bested for its advanced architecture.
Situated on the gentle sloping southwest mesa of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Atrisco Heritage Academy High School is a project campus that occupies 65 acres of land under the partnership of Fanning Bard Tatum Architects (FBT) and Perkins+Will. The campus structure beat down seventy-six opponents to winning the Grand Prize for 2009 National School Boards Association (NSBA) Exhibition of School Architecture.
The project aims at preserving the natural landscape of the property, in which the designers have opted to “building into the site” rather than on top of it. The site slants down at 85 feet to the east and the structure takes advantage of this inborn slow to allow passers-by to see the campus as well as admire the spectacular view of the Sandia Mountain Range.
Considering the arid climate of the region, the design features a ‘cool’ low emissivity roofing and a thermal window system with insulated glazing, held together with steel frames and clad with concrete masonry unit (CMU) in variegated natural tones to compliment the surrounding landscape.
The planning phase consisted hundreds of people, including representatives from the district’s education leaders and facility departments, community groups and its designated students. “I never felt excluded from the planning process and neither did the community,” says Karen Griego-Sanchez, the school’s principal. “The design team was committed to education quality and equity, as well as listening to our ideas and wishes and making them into reality.”
The facilities are opened for visitation on the underserved South Valley area. The clear division of the zones has enabled access without interruptions to the students. Along with the many technologically advanced learning rooms, the campus also includes a credit union, gyms, a black box theatre, a state-of-the-art performing arts center, a community library (in collaboration with Central New Mexico Community College), a health clinic and a community center.
The campus educates 3,100 students to date, with flexible classrooms to accommodate for future changes in the academy’s curricular needs. The development of the program, planning and design was mainly driven by the rapid depletion and change to the global environment, as well as the nurturing needs of a promising learning ground.
The project was completed in fall 2011. Perkins+Will is an international architecture firm with expertise in education.
Architects: Perkins+Will, FBT Architects
Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Project Team: Eric Brossy de Dios, Angela Kunz, Ann Knudsen, Charlene Martin, Kevin Mereness, Ashley Stoner, Nathan Wilcox.
Executive Architects: Fanning Bard Tatum Architects AIA, Ltd.
Project Year: 2008
Photography: New York Focus Photography