Albuquerque, New Mexico
80,000 s.f. Elementary School
Architect: Jon Anderson
Project Designer: James Lucero
Project Manager: Mark Harvold
Arturo Nunez, JAA
Dean Cowdrey, JAA
Alisa Giron, JAA
Owner: Albuquerque Public Schools
General Contractor: Schumate Constructors
AIA Albuquerque Merit Award (Unbuilt)
Project Status: Built
Photos by Kirk Gittings
The magnificent landscape of New Mexico profoundly affected Georgia O’Keeffe and transformed her work into an appreciation of what she believed “belonged” to her. It is this overwhelming notion of belonging that allowed her to evolve as an artist and it is the backbone for the design of this school which bears her name.
The school is meant, not as a monument, but as a vehicle to extract and distill the principles and phenomena of this place, New Mexico, for which O’Keeffe became intensely aware and subsequently exposed to the world. It is meant to instill within every student a spirit of limitless growth potential by providing a richly pedagogical, nurturing, and protected environment from which to thrive.
The school is arranged in a U-shape on an east-west axis with arms that reach out toward the existing playground/park and embrace the Courtyard. Views reconnect the seemingly introverted plan with the Sandia Mountains to the east and the volcanoes and Rio Grande River valley to the west. The materials are muted neutral colors allowing the building to reflect the seasonal qualities of the sky and are juxtaposed against dark metal skin bringing physical form to the notion of shadow. Color is dynamic being both bold and subtle with brightly colored ceiling planes refracting diffuse light onto adjacent surfaces.