RIO RANCHO, N.M. — Antoine Predock has designed projects all round the world, but even 30 years later, one of his favorites is the Rio Grande Nature Center State Park.
“It’s way, way up there,” said Predock, a renowned architect with offices in Los Angeles and Taiwan in addition to Albuquerque. “In terms of the site and its social ethos, I think it’s way up there. To have this in my back yard, I would have to put it in the Top 10.”
Predock will discuss his role in designing the Nature Center at the west end of Candelaria NW on Saturday at a 30th anniversary celebration. The free event is at 1:30 p.m. There is a $3 day-use parking fee.
Predock won the highest honor in architecture in 2006 when he received the American Institute of Architects’ Gold Medal. He has also received the lifetime achievement award from the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. Predock has designed a number of noteworthy buildings, including the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, the National Palace Museum in Taiwan, the Xianfan City Museum in China, as well as the San Diego Padres ballpark in California.
“It’s a time of celebration,” Predock said of Saturday’s event. “Thirty years and it’s getting better all the time.”
When Predock set about designing the Nature Center, the area was strewn with litter and was known more as a place for people to party by the river.
Now, it’s an oasis in the middle of a metropolitan area that provides a haven for airborne and earthbound animals, not to mention those that stroll about upright on two feet.
“The bosque is a treasure to the state of New Mexico and to Albuquerque and everybody that lives here,” Predock said.
But it wasn’t always that way.
A dedicated group of local residents and organizations helped convince state and city officials of the necessity of preserving the bosque.
Once it was cleaned up, Predock wanted to incorporate the beauty of the surrounding area into the overall plan of the park.
Toward that end, the building was purposely set well back and away from the parking lot and surrounding neighborhood, he said.
“I wanted you to be able to experience the bosque as you walked up to the center, with something of a mystery of what was there,” Predock said.
Likewise, the viewing areas within the center were strategically placed to take best advantage of the site, he said.
“I call it a ‘Zen view,'” Predock said. “The animals don’t know that we’re watching them; that we’re spying on them.”
Predock’s talk is the only event on the docket to acknowledge the anniversary, but people shouldn’t need an excuse to visit the center, he said.
“It’s still a big part of my life,” Predock said. “I don’t think people realize how unique this is. I’ve designed other nature centers but to have one right in the middle of the city is very important. I think, it’s exciting that Albuquerque has something that nobody else has.”
For more information call 344-7240 and ask for Beth Dillingham.
— This article appeared on page 1 of the West Side Journal