Design and Planning Assistance Center (DPAC)

The mission of the Design and Planning Assistance Center (DPAC) is to deliver design and planning services to low-income communities throughout the state of New Mexico. DPAC was founded at the UNM School of Architecture & Planning (SA•P) in 1969, as part of a national community design movement that linked university design programs and design practitioners with communities in need. Today, DPAC is the second oldest, continuously operating, community design center based in a public university. In its 44-year history, DPAC has completed approximately 1500 projects, serving hundreds of communities—large and small—in every county of New Mexico.

The DPAC Studio encourages broad-based thinking about urban design and planning. As Architects, Landscape Architects and Planners, we collaborate in a process that includes research, community participation, asset inventory, analysis, programming, site planning, design and recommendations for project implementation. We tackle the design process at multiple scales as we consider regional trends and characteristics, transportation issues, economic conditions, unique development and architectural patterns, local history, community climate, and community goals via the stakeholders.

“…design and planning processes are fundamentally shared experiences that bind us together; client, student, and faculty. We learn from and about one another. Our strengths and our limitations become public knowledge, but somehow we all emerge stronger for it. For the faculty and students, it is a taste of reality, a test of skill, and a lesson in humility. For the client it is a glimpse of future potential and a symbol of a better life. For all, it is a learning experience and a reminder that architecture and planning are not some abstracted endeavors disconnected from the daily lives of people.”
- Former SA•P Dean, Richard Eribes, December, 1994.

Recent Projects


Michaele Pride, AIA, NOMA; DPAC Director and Associate Dean for Public Outreach and Engagement


"Urban Composition" by Mark Childs Wins 2013 EDRA Great Places Award
June 4, 2013
Urban Composition, by Professor Mark Childs was published this May by Princeton Architectural Press, and awarded the 2013 Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA) Great Places Award in the Place Book category. Read More...

Dr. Laura Harjo Appointed Assistant Professor of Planning
April 16, 2013

HPR Summer Instructor Tony Atkin, FAIA, Featured in Architectural Record
March 28, 2013
Tony Atkin, FAIA, is an award-winning architect and preservationist; principal, Atkin Olshin Schade Architects, Philadelphia and Santa Fe; co-editor of Structure and Meaning in Human Settlements. Read More...

ABQ+UNM CityLab Collaboration
March 7, 2013
The recent cre-ation of the City-Lab in down-town Albu-querque addresses a con-cern that Dean Forbes Isais, and many oth-ers have had, regard-ing the rela-tion-ship between the uni-ver-sity and the city. Read More...