University of New Mexico Castetter Hall Biology

Albuquerque, NM

Castetter Hall Phase II is a 22,562 sf classroom and lab building for the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, NM. The primary focus of the building is education and research for the University’s Biology Department. It houses research laboratories, offices and lab support spaces within a three-story building. The new building ties the existing Castetter Hall, a historic John Gaw Meem project built in 1952. It is a modern interpretation of the Gaw Meem style yet respectful to the historic context of the older building. Located at the Yale Mall, a prominent campus pedestrian intersection, FBT worked closely with the Universities design review board to create the modern Gaw Meem expression and new identity for the Biology department.

Certified LEED Silver, this project incorporates many sustainable features including: state-of-the-art mechanical and lighting control systems, creative water harvesting techniques, and high performance fenestration systems. The building design, placement and organization responded to researcher requirements and the need for precise environmental controls in the research greenhouse. FBT worked closely with the Researchers to develop flexible lab spaces to support the needs of future Research candidates.

The Vision

Castetter Hall’s contemporary exterior aesthetic expresses a modern research facility yet is respectful of the historic 1952 John Gaw Meem building. Detailing techniques employed by Gaw Meem on the original building were employed with a lighter, more contemporary feel to blend the two buildings. Two-stories of the addition reflect the horizontal lines and massing of the Gaw Meem structure. The third story was minimized by stepping it back and utilizing transparent materials through curtainwall construction, metal panels and solar shading to create a modern scientific research facility. This addition connects the original Gaw Meem Building to a 2008 addition to the west and wraps an existing utility courtyard. A sense of presence was created to signify both the building’s prominence at the Yale Campus entry and to build an identity for the Biology department.

UNM Castetter vision1 UNM Castetter vision2

The Design

One challenge for the design team was placing six new research greenhouses on top of an existing roof. To provide the required exists off an occupied rooftop, structural modifications were made and an exterior stair were added to the roof. Mechanically, each greenhouse bay required specific temperature and humidity controls independent of each other and the Universities Central plant to assure equilibrium of airflow and temperature within each greenhouse.