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Design team chosen for UNM center update

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The $35 million Johnson Center update is one step closer to reality – indoor track, rock climbing wall and all.

University of New Mexico has selected the design team to guide the recreation center’s expansion and renovation, and said construction should begin next year, with a goal of completing the work by the end of 2019.

The project marks the 60-year-old facility’s first major upgrade since 2000, said Kevin Stevenson, strategic planner in the president’s office at UNM.

Albuquerque-based FBT Architects and the St. Louis, Mo.-headquartered firm Hastings + Chivetta Architects will team up on the design. The project will revamp the southern portion of the 297,000-square-foot facility and extend it another 60,000 square feet.

UNM has nearly completed the list of amenities it will add and Stevenson said it will include many of the ideas supplied by the campus community. That will likely mean an indoor track, a rock climbing/bouldering wall and a “multi-activity court” that groups could use for “indoor soccer or field hockey – probably 1,000 other things,” he said. The project should also double the space available for weight and cardio training.

UNM considers it the first phase of what could ultimately be a three-phase overhaul of Johnson and is currently working on a master plan for the venue. The school does not have a timeline or funding in place for the future phases, but Stevenson said long-term planning today will help create a more cohesive finished product, unlike its current state.

“There’s been a handful of different additions (over the years) that were all done in a very haphazard way; nothing that was done ever built on the step before it or had the next step in mind,” he said.

The school will pay for this phase with $35 million from a UNM institutional bond.

The Johnson Center upgrade is the second-largest project in UNM’s current $180 million wave of capital projects.

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