The Sandia Mountain Natural History Center (SMNHC) is an 11,500 SF environmental education center housing classrooms, administration offices and museum space that serves all Albuquerque Public School 5th graders and others from the Albuquerque area and throughout New Mexico. The most unique aspect is that the building is designed to be 100% off-grid utilizing PV heating/ cooling and PV electrical power. Appropriately, the nature center will be a study to further APS’s goal to convert school campuses to alternative and renewable energy sources.
The SMNHC is jointly run by the APS and the NM Museum of Natural History and Science. The facility serves approximately 17,000 people per year and offers a variety of environmental programs for school groups and the general public. The educators, trained in ecology-based degrees, teach the students about the ecosystem by leading nature hikes and developing hands-on nature programs.
The SMNHC integrates into the landscape and becomes a visual training center for the environmental education process. Utilizing natural grades and landscape features the visitor will experience the movement thru the space much as if they were on a hiking trail. The building masses become obstacles that one either moves thru or around. The negative space between buildings is devoted to the reclamation of the natural landscape and creating habitat for animals enhancing the environmental educational experience.