University of New Mexico Planning, Design & Construction has selected Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R), a highly influential and internationally renowned architecture practice, as the firm to design the prestigious Center for Collaborative Arts and Technology (CCAT) facility, which will break ground on UNM’s main campus in the Summer of 2024.

After a rigorous selection process, DS+R was chosen for its exceptional competence and qualifications. DS+R will collaborate with Albuquerque-based ROMA Architecture and other specialized partners to bring this visionary facility to life.

The CCAT, as outlined in the UNM College of Fine Art’s Framework Plan, aims to be a catalyst for creativity, innovation, and collaboration among students, faculty, and the wider Albuquerque arts community. This project holds immense importance for UNM's College of Fine Arts, as it seeks to cultivate future creatives and audiences while advancing a critical, creative workforce, and boosting New Mexico’s economy.

"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 Amy Coburn, university architect at The University of New Mexico.

DS+R is known for designing cutting-edge spaces that seamlessly blend functionality, aesthetics, and sustainability. With a proven track record in performing arts spaces on university campuses, DS+R's team brings a wealth of knowledge, skills, and experience to the project. Led by distinguished architect Benjamin Gilmartin, the firm has a strong commitment to innovation and community engagement.

The selection process involved a comprehensive evaluation of sixteen highly competitive proposals from nationally and internationally celebrated architecture firms, including specialized local and international design expertise, technical competence, capacity, and a record of performance. 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 Center for Collaborative Arts and Technology is poised to have a profound impact on the New Mexico arts and culture scene, as well as the local economy. The facility will be designed to meet or exceed LEED Silver V.4 certification standards and will provide exhibition and rehearsal spaces, a large concert hall, and flexible collaborative areas. Its location on the UNM campus, bordering Central Avenue, will animate the street, creating new vibrancy, showcasing the talents of the College of Fine Arts to the public.

"This investment in the arts at UNM is crucial in building an even stronger future for our students, the university, and our state," explained Harris D. Smith, dean of UNM’s College of Fine Arts “Placing the building on Central Avenue, also known as the Route 66 corridor, ensures that the arts will be accessible and integrated into the heart of the community. By embracing this opportunity, we strive to foster a deeper connection between the university and the wider public, creating a space where artistic expression flourishes, and the transformative power of the arts resonates with all."

Arts patrons may already be familiar with many of the iconic buildings designed by DS+R, including The Broad in downtown Los Angeles, The Juilliard School at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, and other notable projects in New York City such as The High Line, the latest expansion of MoMA, The Shed, and multiple facilities at Columbia University. These architectural achievements highlight DS+R's exceptional track record and their ability to create inspiring spaces that push the boundaries of design and functionality.

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

The College of Fine Arts at UNM not only holds a vital role in shaping New Mexico's cultural landscape but also stands as a significant economic driver within the state. Through its performances, shows, galleries, and programming, it attracts over 12,000 visitors annually. Many local galleries and concert venues are staffed by the College's alumni and students. Additionally, the College's outreach programs, such as the Music and Arts Education and Music Prep School programs, bring the arts to children across the state.

The Current Center for Fine Arts building, constructed in 1963, no longer adequately supports the needs of all the College of Fine Arts programs and departments. Its outdated infrastructure, limited space, and lack of modern amenities hinder the educational experience for students.

The new $65 million facility, funded by general obligation bonds approved in the 2022 New Mexico Legislature and by New Mexico’s voters, as well as institutional bonds, will address the growing demand for a state-of-the-art arts education. It will support the College of Fine Arts' vision of collaboration, integration, and interdisciplinarity while enhancing New Mexico's contemporary arts community.

DS+R is proud to partner with local associate architect ROMA Architecture to bring this project to fruition. ROMA Architecture, founded in 1991, is a highly respected firm known for its exceptional craftsmanship and award-winning architecture. With a team of experienced architects and designers, ROMA Architecture has a deep understanding of New Mexico's architectural landscape and has designed and developed over $250 million worth of educational and learning facilities in the last decade, including several as Architect of Record on UNM’s campuses.

“We are thrilled and honored to be collaborating with prestigious firm DS+R to realize this important project for UNM and for our city,” said James Lucero and Dean Cowdrey, partners at ROMA Architecture. "Together, our team hopes to celebrate the arts and honor New Mexico’s rich heritage in a forward-looking way.”

Other Consultants involved in this project alongside DS+R and ROMA include:

  • Fisher Dachs Associates – Theater Consulting
  • Jaffe Holden – Acoustics and A/V Consulting
  • Silman - structural engineering
  • Pland Collaborative - landscape design
  • Verdacity - LEED professionals
  • Integrity Code Consulting – Building Code / Life Safety Consulting
  • High Mesa Consulting Group – Civil Engineering/Survey
  • Terracon Consultants, Inc. – Geotechnical Engineering
  • Balis & Company – Independent Cost Consulting
  • Bridgers & Paxton – MEP Engineering / Communications Design
  • Manuel Miranda Practice – Wayfinding, Signage and Graphics Consulting
  • Construction Specifications, Inc.

This comprehensive team of consultants, working in partnership with DS+R and local associate architect ROMA Architecture, will create an innovative facility that celebrates the arts and leaves a lasting impact on the University of New Mexico and the city of Albuquerque. With their expertise in various areas, such as structural engineering, landscape design, LEED certification, building code compliance, theater consulting, civil engineering, and more, these consultants will contribute their skills to ensure the success of the CCAT project. The University of New Mexico looks forward to the realization of this transformative space, which will serve as a hub for creativity, artistic expression, and community engagement in the heart of Albuquerque.

The Collaborative Arts & Technology Center is a visionary project which launches as a complement to the ongoing progress of the UNM Integrated Campus Plan (ICP). As the ICP unfolds, it presents a comprehensive proposition for land development, facility expansion, opportunity sites, and campus character across the main and branch campuses within the University's holdings.

Through this endeavor, The University administration embraces an assessment of existing architectural styles and campus design guidance, primarily aligning its architecture with a forward-thinking vision. At the same time, the review is committed to preserving and celebrating the historical context and the diverse array of architectural styles that grace the UNM campus. With a steadfast commitment to maintaining a vibrant and dynamic campus, The University aspires to cultivate an atmosphere that reverberates with its rich heritage and embraces its future aspirations.