Blog Snapshot of 499 Capstone Project- Jacqueline Smith

New Mexico’s culture and architecture is unique to anywhere else in the world. There is a lack of communication about what makes the state so unique and what it has to offer, especially in the built environment. Important historic buildings are left to dilapidate, and then torn down and replaced with cheap, unsustainable construction. With Albuquerque growing, and development happening all over the city, it is important to preserve historic architecture. What each person defines as important varies, but there are also some officially recognized as historic buildings – In my project I documented an unofficially recognized structure, a lightning shelter on the UNM North Golf Course Urban open space. As an architecture student who has acquired design skills as well as documentation skills I have found interest in the repurposing of old structures that are no longer in use. Because of these factors and after discussing possible projects with my mentor, Francisco Uvina, the Interim Director for the Historic Preservation + Regionalism Certificate Program, he communicated that their was interest in documenting and redesigning the program for the structure. I have conduced in depth research about existing material on the structure. I then visited the site and created sketches, detail scale floor plans, and a 3D model. I will document the structures current condition and make repair suggestions. I will also make a suggested reuse plan, with a program involving Lobo gardens – since they are planning on expanding to the surrounding area in the distant future. The research, plans, and renderings will then be complied to a portfolio with which I will be publishing online, as well as donate a hard copy to the Fine Arts Library, sharing with the parties interested (Including Bernalillo County and UNM Planners), and finally a submittal to the Historic American Building Society. The benefits of documenting this architecture are economic, environmental, and social. Preserving architecture is economic because it does not require the demolition of the existing structure, and saves on construction costs. Preservation is important environmentally because continuing to use a building rather constructing an entire new one requires less new material. What is specifically important about the Lightning house is that it is traditional adobe construction, a method being used less and less in New Mexico. Most importantly to me and what makes me interested in preservation is that it is not disrupting the existing cultural footprint a building has on a neighborhood, and on people. A city should be honest in it’s origins, as well as offer it’s residents a sense of spirit and nostalgia, this is what makes a city truly appealing, and what makes people proud to live there. People who appreciate their surroundings are more likely to be compassionate to the environment and to others. The goal of documenting the lightning house is to make New Mexicans more informed on the rich history of the state’s built environment, and also provide the designs for what could become a sustainable structure with new life.

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