Wednesday, October 26, 2011

UNMG Student Services and Technology Center Open for Business

FOR RELEASE: October 26, 2011
Two hundred-plus visitors gathered in the bright October sunshine on the 21st to watch as a large red ribbon strung across the entrance was cut with enormous ceremonial scissors, signifying the official dedication of the UNM-Gallup Student Services and Technology Center.

Sylvia Andrew, executive director, welcomed visitors and introduced the speakers, which included Teresa Dowling, chair of the Local Board; Ken Easley, representing Flintco, the construction company that built the building; Patty Lundstrom, New Mexico state representative; Paul McCollum, one of the original founders of the college; and Mark Rohde of Rohde May Keller McNamara Architects of Albuquerque, who designed the building. After the ribbon cutting, visitors were taken on tours of the new facility conducted by Student Services personnel.

The building has been awarded a silver LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) award for its advanced environmental technology and features and is the first LEED-awarded building in Gallup-McKinley County.

Perhaps the most arresting architectural element of the structure is the extensive use of copper. Copper-clad walls, inside and out, provide a warm, earthy ambience that evokes the reddish hues of the nearby hills. Warm tones carried out in concrete panels on the interior walls and in a light hardwood floor also add to the restful atmosphere.

The building features smart classrooms, an outdoor amphitheater nestled in a microclimate created by concrete stairs and the glass front of the building, as well as environmentally controlled systems.

One of the most impressive design features is the extensive use of glass so that students and employees may feel the beneficial effects of the natural lighting. A steel mesh screen across the glass front of the building helps to mitigate the glare, as does a mesh screen constructed inside the glass.

The building also has a raised floor, with all registers and systems located beneath the floor for ease of maintenance.

Visitors were particularly impressed with the smart classroom with a 16-panel video screen that can show either 16 different images or one large one. On the day of the dedication, a trailer for the 3-D movie “Avatar” was showing in a continuous loop.

There are also several student lounge and study areas, as well as a long row of student computer stations, featuring both thin clients (reduced capacity computers that depend on a server to fulfill traditional computational roles), as well as stations for students to plug in. A gas fireplace on the lower level will be turned on during the winter months to enhance the comfort of the structure.

The Student Services and the Business Operations departments have already moved into the building; the Arts and Letters and Social Sciences faculty and some classes are due to relocate there in January.

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