The Student Union Building at New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas, New Mexico, has opened with design by Diamond Schmitt Architects in conjunction with Studio Southwest Architects. A sunny three-story atrium anchors the 65,000-square-foot facility, clad in black iron spot brick, Corten steel panels, and a glazed aluminum curtain wall.
The university is seeking LEED Gold certification with a number of energy-saving initiatives, including a geothermal well field that is part of the mechanical energy system. A motorized sun tracking louver system on three sides of the building shades the interiors from direct sunlight during the day and opens at night. The third floor is set back under large extending roof planes that reduce the building’s overall scale while providing shade and covered terraces. Green roofs also are planned for the future.
Inside, student lounges on all three floors surround the atrium, and above "floats" a 75-student governance chamber. The building also houses a ballroom/conference facility, theater, bookstore, café, a cafeteria that opens onto a sheltered courtyard, meeting rooms, and a dining area.