I write today to share good news: The Honors College will no longer have to relocate to the Art Annex! There are three major reasons for this change.
- In the wake of the August regents meeting, the UNM board of regents created a task force to look over the reallocation of SHAC’s ground-level space.
- That task force drew upon an outside architect to review the plan to renovate the Art Annex, and that .
- A new, more convenient space appeared as the board of regents searched for alternatives.
Combined, those three factors have given both the Department of Art and Art History and the Honors College both a reason for relief.
At the regents meeting in August of this year, the UNM Board of Regents discussed a resolution to review the situation of the Honors relocation. To follow through on that intention, Interim Provost White created a task force set to review the reallocation of space driven by SHAC’s need to expand. That small group has quietly but steadily been gathering and reviewing material relevant to the move and synthesizing it for review. The ultimate result of their research appears in their conclusion that moving the Honors College to the Art Annex and the MFA Arts programs to the Biology Annex would be ineffective.
In addition to the task force, the UNM Board of Regents contracted an outside architect to look over the planned move. To do so, the architect reviewed the Art Annex and its sister building, the Biology Annex, from the perspective of an appraiser trying to generate a cost estimate on renovations. Given the originally approved budget of six-point-one million dollars available to renovate both annexes and the age of the buildings involved, the contracted architect ultimately found that the original concept for the project would cost too much to prove practical for the university.
Most excitingly, another temporary space that would fall much more easily under budget and suit the needs of Honors quite well arose in the midst of the task force’s work: Anderson East. The Anderson East building is still slated for demolition in five to six years, however, a temporary reallocation to that building is much more feasible than the original plan, and leaves hope that a committed living-learning facility might see the light of a drafting table in the somewhat near future. The only worry thus far is that the annex may not offer a substantial space increase, not meeting Honor’s expansion goals. However, it would retain some of our current space’s key benefits, including an outdoor courtyard that could take the place of the current Honors patio. Given Anderson East’s close proximity to Hokona Hall, a move to Anderson East would also bring Honors closer to its projected goal of working in tandem with housing.
The new plan still awaits official presentation to and approval by the UNM board of regents, but the possibility that the regents will accept this alternative seems promising at the current time. This development could not be more timely, as the move to the Annex had been slated for the all-too-near future. Via the work of the task force, the observations of the contracted architect, and the keen eye of all interested parties, it seems that an amenable solution to all concerned parties lies close at hand. For the time being, I will hope that this chain of new events comes to pass. And I can do so with a sigh of genuine relief on my breath, a relief born of the knowledge that, when we communicate effectively, the body of UNM at large still works well with its many component parts.
For more information on the Honors relocation, see https://www.abqjournal.com/1088225/unm-scraps-plan-to-convert-art-annex-to-space-for-honors-college.html.
Written by Samuel Shoemaker-Trejo