The University of New Mexico School of Architecture & Planning, through the City of Albuquerque, was recommended for a grant award of $150,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts Our Town program. This is one of 59 projects nationally to receive NEA Our Town support for creative place-making projects.

The City of Albuquerque and its Cultural Services Department requested a partnership that includes: the University of New Mexico School of Architecture & Planning, the ABQ UNM CityLab, Bernalillo County, the Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority (AMAFCA) and two non-profit organizations instrumental to the project—Littleglobe and Story of Place Institute.

The School of Architecture & Planning's NEA Our Town proposal project is to design a community garden/plaza space along historic Route 66 in Albuquerque’s International District.

Michaele Pride, associate dean, UNM School of Architecture & Planning, said, “We will host and manage the design project with CityLab as the venue for the project, which allows us to leverage our commitment with the City of Albuquerque.”

The highly-competitive Our Town program will award $4.725 million in this cycle, with the City of Albuquerque Partnership receiving $150,000. The two-year partnership project will culminate in a design to revitalize a community space in the International District with input from the people who live and work there. The design of the community garden/plaza space will serve as a model for four more similar spaces along Central Avenue.

“I am pleased with the success of this partnership’s early efforts,” said Mayor Richard J. Berry. “The Our Town project will emphasize the city’s International District and will highlight its rich cultural diversity by working with district residents to create a design for a public space that will incorporate their stories and unique perspectives about their neighborhood.”

The design will include elements of the district’s history, future and its relationship to land and water. Littleglobe and Story of Place Institute will work with district residents of all ages to learn where a plaza should be located and what residents want from the space. Professors and students at the ABQ UNM CityLab will incorporate this information into a site design. Among concepts considered for the finished design are a community garden, permanent seating and performance spaces, public art and more.

Pride said that the School of Architecture & Planning and its partners will need to secure an additional $150,000 from local sources to bring the project to fruition.

She added, “This is the first of these larger NEA grants secured by the School of Architecture & Planning in recent history. By engaging government, the private sector and the community, we are creating a model of how we impact New Mexico communities in the future.”

Pride said, “The project provides an enriched academic experience for faculty and students, giving them firsthand experience in project development and relationship building that parallels professional practice that students seldom realize while still in school."

Through the Our Town program, the NEA supports creative placemaking projects that help transform communities into lively, beautiful and sustainable places with the arts at their core. Since the program's inception in 2011, the NEA has supported 190 projects totaling more than $16 million in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Media Contact: Carolyn Gonzales (505) 277-5920; email: