Diller Scofidio + Renfro to design a new arts and performance center for University of New Mexico

A Route 66 Replacement

Diller Scofidio + Renfro to design a new arts and performance center for University of New Mexico

Diller Scofidio + Renfro will design the new Center for Collaborative Arts and Technology at the University of New Mexico. (Courtesy University of New Mexico)

Heading east on Albuquerque’s Central Avenue, part of historic Route 66, the University of New Mexico’s sprawling campus will be on your left while typical amenities for college students like food joints, coffee shops, and study outlets are on the right. Traversing the corridor, you’ll notice many of the university buildings along the drag adopt a variation of the popular Spanish Pueblo revival style, among those is the adobe-colored Center for Fine Arts building, a 1963 addition to the campus now in dire need of an upgrade.

University of New Mexico Planning, Design & Construction has announced Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) will design the new Center for Collaborative Arts and Technology (CCAT) to replace the existing arts center. DS+R was chosen for the project out of sixteen proposals from national and international architecture firms. The New York–based firm will work with Albuquerque-based ROMA Architecture to conceive the CCAT facility, where exhibition spaces, rehearsal rooms, a concert hall, and collaborative workspaces will be housed under a single roof.

In its current state the Center for Fine Arts building is in desperate need of repairs: its roof leaks, the floors are cracked, and ceiling tiles are missing. In addition to this the growing college has outgrown the space and requires larger academic rooms and performance venues.

“We are thrilled to announce our partnership with DS+R as the architects for the Center for Collaborative Arts and Technology. Their unwavering dedication to architectural excellence, coupled with their profound understanding of music performance typology, makes them the perfect collaborator for the University as we embark on this transformative journey,” said university architect Amy Coburn in a statement.

In a press release, UNM shared that it chose the firm for its “exceptional competence and qualifications.” It added that “DS+R’s proposal stood out for its innovative approach, demonstrated ability to meet the project’s unique challenges, and a compelling vision that perfectly aligned with the goals of the Center for Collaborative Arts and Technology.”

The CCAT is part of the UNM College of Fine Art’s Framework Plan and the UNM Integrated Campus Plan (ICP); both seek to expand and make upgrades to the university’s campus facilities and property.

Designs for the new building have yet to be made public, and few details are available about the forthcoming facility, which will be prominently located to face Central Avenue so that the happenings will be fully visible from the active street. The building will target LEED Silver V.4 certification.

“We’re excited to partner with UNM in creating a trailblazing center for artistic expression, creative thinking and innovation,” said DS+R Partner-in-charge Benjamin Gilmartin. “The CCAT will form a new campus gateway on Route 66 and become a catalyst for the advancement of the arts in New Mexico.”

DS+R and Roma Architecture will work alongside a team of engineers and consultants to realize the project, among this Fisher Dachs Associates (theater consultants), Jaffe Holden (acoustics and A/V work), Silman (structural engineer), Pland Collaborative (landscape design), Verdacity (LEED professionals), Integrity Code Consulting (building code and life safety consulting), High Mesa Consulting Group (civil engineering/survey), Terracon Consultants (geotechnical engineering), Balis & Company (cost consulting), Bridgers & Paxton (MEP engineering and communications design), Manuel Miranda Practice (wayfinding, signage and graphics), and Specifications (construction).

Design and construction on the new building is slated to cost $65 million. Funding for this will come from general obligation bonds that were approved by the New Mexico Legislature and voters in 2022.

Construction on the CCAT is planned for summer 2024.