Los Alamos nature center top 2015 project - Albuquerque Journal

Los Alamos nature center top 2015 project

A small public project overlooking a canyon in Northern New Mexico was named Project of the Year, while another four projects in the state were category winners, in ENR Southwest’s 2015 best projects competition for Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico.

The 6,000-square-foot Los Alamos County Nature Center, built at a cost of $3.5 million, received the top recognition this month after having earlier won Best Small Project from the regional division of Engineering News-Record, an engineering and construction news magazine based in Troy, Mich.

One of the design and construction challenges of the Los Alamos Nature Center was its location perched on the edge of Pueblo Canyon. (Courtesy Of Patrick Coulie)
One of the design and construction challenges of the Los Alamos Nature Center was its location perched on the edge of Pueblo Canyon. (Courtesy of Patrick Coulie)

More than 80 projects from the three states were submitted in 18 categories, ranging from heavy-duty construction to tenant improvements.

“This award is really judged across the board,” said Doug Heller of Mullen Heller Architecture in Albuquerque. “The owner’s commitment to the project, the contractor’s contribution, the subcontractors, engineers, as well as the design. They take safety and quality of construction into account.”

Working off a conceptual design by Arizona-based Catalyst Architecture, Mullen Heller teamed with Albuquerque’s Klinger Constructors for the design/build phase of the nature center, which is described as a collaboration between Los Alamos County and the Pajarito Environmental Education Center.

Both its size and exterior appearance make the nature center look like a high-end custom home, Heller acknowledged.

In its November issue, ENR Southwest highlights the challenges of the nature center’s location, perched on the edge of Pueblo Canyon, and maintaining the stylishness of the conceptual design while staying on budget and on schedule.

“The trend in construction that we see is providing value to an owner while still maintaining the budget,” Heller said. “Sometimes, we have to look at being creative with the budget. Sometimes, we have to explore different construction methods and materials.”

In addition to Los Alamos County, Mullen Heller and Klinger, other key players in the project were exhibit designer Andrew Merriell & Associates, and engineering firms Beaudin Ganze, Walla Engineering and Wilson & Co.

New Mexico projects won five of the 18 categories, which Heller said was an excellent showing for the state relative to its size compared to the larger Arizona and Nevada markets. A sixth New Mexico project won a merit or second-place award.

Here are brief descriptions of the other winners in ENR Southwest’s annual competition:

• The four-story, 674,765-square-foot parking garage at Sandia Resort & Casino, a pre-cast concrete structure built at a cost of $33 million, won the specialty contracting category. Based on ENR Southwest’s description of the project, the comparatively massive parking garage required a lot of precision and coordination.

In addition to owner Sandia Resort and Albuquerque general contractor Jaynes Corp., key players in the project included YWS Architects, Lochsa Engineering, High Mesa Consulting and FEA Consulting Engineers.

• The two-phase $23.2 million face-lift of the Albuquerque Convention Center, which remained open throughout the project, won the renovation/restoration category. ENR Southwest describes how certain elements of the renovation look simple, but were in fact intensely engineered and reconstructed.

In addition to owner city of Albuquerque and lead design firm Dekker Perich Sabatini of Albuquerque, key players included general contractors Bradbury Stamm Construction and Gerald Martin Ltd., engineering firms Bohannan Huston and Bridgers & Paxton, and subcontractors JettWalker and Balis & Co.

• Construction of the $4.4 million multipurpose center at Robert F. Kennedy Charter High School, which incorporated a training program for selected students, won the K-12 school category.

In addition to owner Albuquerque Public Schools and lead design firm DWL Architects & Planners of New Mexico, key players included general contractor AnchorBuilt Inc., engineering firms RME ABQ, Miller Engineering Consultants and T&D Services, LEED consultant Green Ideas Inc. and Westwind Landscape Construction.

• The $1.3 million renovation of the First National Rio Grande building in Old Town, which also houses the offices of project architect Studio Southwest Architects, won the interior/tenant improvement category.

Key players included owner First National Bank Santa Fe/Strategic Growth Banking Corp., design firms Workshop Architects + Urbanists and Oglesby Design, general contractor Hart Design & Construction, Walla Engineering, ArSed Engineering Group and ENG 3 Group.

A merit award in the government/public building category was given to the two-story, 26,000-square-foot Patrick J. Baca Library. The $8.4 million project on the West Side was described as featuring state-of-the-art systems, including underfloor mechanical, electrical, security and information technology.

In addition to owner Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Library System and general contractor HB Construction, key players included design firm RMKM Architecture, and engineering firms RME ABQ, High Mesa Consulting Group and Bridgers & Paxton Consulting Engineers.

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