The University of New Mexico School of Architecture & Planning recently hosted two men who graduated from the architecture program in 1966. Joseph Ehardt, Jr. and Reginald Richey had an opportunity to visit George Pearl Hall and see the innovations taking place there. The two also visited with some faculty and students.
Joseph Ehardt, Jr.
“I spent one year at the University of Illinois, Champaign, and then returned to Chicago to get basic coursework out of the way before applying to an architecture program,” he said. He applied to the UNM program and to Kentucky. In 1962, he came to UNM.
While a student, Ehardt worked part time for Joe Boehning during the design and planning phase of The Pit. After graduate school, he went to work for Gruen Associates and the City of Oakland.
In 1971, he went to Jacksonville, Fla., where he worked in the planning group with Reynolds, Smith and Hills. During his 20-year tenure there, he did a two year stint in Tabuk, Saudi Arabia, managing a town planning office for the City of Tabuk and the region.
Ehardt joined the firm Landers-Atkins Planning in 1994, became a partner and then Vice President of Urban Design. He worked on redevelopment planning, streetscape design, form base codes and other urban design projects. The firm was later sold to HDR Engineering.
“I did have one chance to come back to Albuquerque,” Ehardt said. While still with HDR, he worked with their Albuquerque office on a Great Streets Facility Plan for the City of Albuquerque. “It was, in part, to implement the Albuquerque/Bernalillo County comprehensive plan, particularly the transportation corridor,” he said. Being back in Albuquerque was pleasant for Ehardt. “The city has changed a lot due to good urban planning,” he said.
He and his wife Cynthia are retired in Jacksonville.
Deming native Reginald Richey graduated from the University of New Mexico architecture program in 1966. He recently visited George Pearl Hall, where the School of Architecture & Planning now resides. With no architecture building in the 1960s, Richey enjoyed a tour of the building and seeing the innovations taking place in the school.
Richey is a Deming, N.M. boy who grew up on a farm. How does a farm boy get interested in architecture? “I had a history teacher – Jack Hall. He always added other aspects to history – art, culture and architecture,” Richey recalls. He also took a mechanical drawing class. “I was doing projects nobody else was doing. By the time I graduated from high school, I was a pretty good draftsman,” he said.
Richey said that UNM was his only choice. “It was the only architecture program in New Mexico and was only $112 per semester. Room and board was maybe $300 or $400,” he said.
Richey’s education didn’t take place solely at UNM. Starting in his sophomore year, he got a job through a friend. “I went to work as a draftsman for Dr. Giomi, a mechanical engineer, who graduated from the University of Torino,” he said.
He recalled that Giomi drove an Alfa Romeo. “At lunch we played pool.” Giomi also exposed the young Richey to European dining and perspectives. “He had a huge influence on my life.” And Giomi respected Richey’s interest in architecture.
Following graduation, Richey got some help from Timothy Vreeland, then chairman of the architecture program. “He put me in touch with Louis Kahn and the Philadelphia School. I went to work for one of the small architectural firms spun out of Penn and Kahn,” he said.
Richey stayed in Philadelphia for six years before moving to Denver. “I worked in Auraria, the original part of Denver before the city’s name was changed. I worked on a 48-acre urban renewal project there,” he said.
But Richey isn’t just the farm boy who made a name for himself. He brought his talents back home. Richey’s firm, Office of Reginald Wade Richey, in Lincoln, N.M., was selected to do a remodel of Deming’s civic center to transform it into a much needed, larger library.
“The original building had served many purposes – a bowling alley, a ballroom and a Safeway grocery story. We gutted the inside and inserted light towers that penetrated the roof,” he said, adding that getting permission to put in those towers was challenging.
Richey also designed the library’s furniture. “A woodworker in Deming built it all – bookcases, chairs, everything,” he said. The chairs are traditional, but the rest of the furniture is modern. The Marshall Memorial Library celebrated its grand opening on May 10, 2005. Last year, Richey completed a design to expand the building, but the funds aren’t as yet available.
Richey currently serves on the Governor-appointed Cultural Properties Review Committee in the architect position. He is also president of Rio Bonito Preserve, a non-profit established to conserve and protect historic and cultural properties in Lincoln County.