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2016 Jeff Harnar Award

ABC Library @ Central and Unser

Winner of the 2016 Jeff Harnar Award for Contemporary Architecture

 The University of New Mexico School of Architecture & Planning announced that the ABC Library @ Central and Unser will receive the 2016 Jeff Harnar Award for Contemporary Architecture in New Mexico. The winning facility was designed by RMKM Architecture, P.C. in Albuquerque. Geraldine Forbes Isais, dean, UNM School of Architecture & Planning, said, “The School is fortunate to host the Jeff Harnar Award.  I am not aware of any other architecture program in the U.S. that hosts an award program like this. Working with the Thornburg Foundation on this award exposes our students and faculty to the best contemporary architecture in the state.  Each year a faculty member and graduate architecture student serve on the Harnar jury so they can experience a design jury from within. In addition, the Annual Harnar Award lecture acquaints our students with high-profile architectural innovators. This helps us to reinforce the spirit of Jeff Harnar for the next generation of design leaders.” 

Opened in 2015, it is the first city library to be built in 17 years. It sits on the northwest corner of Central and Unser in Albuquerque. The building features a variety of reading areas, including one for adults and one for children. A 150-seat community room is a feature that can be rented for meetings.Located on the old Route 66, with terrific views of the Sandia Mountains, the design team worked closely with the library staff to insure the building had a presence on the street.  The goal was to increase the visual importance of the building to create a landmark in the community.

Mark Rohde, AIA, a partner at RMKM said:

”We are honored to be selected as this year’s Harnar Award recipient for Albuquerque’s new ABC Library @ Central and Unser. The project’s success is the direct result of an exceptional collaboration of many tireless individuals including the design team, library staff, city administration and community stakeholders.”

Considered the most prestigious recognition for contemporary architectural design in New Mexico, the Jeff Harnar Award also includes a $10,000 prize to the submitting architectural firm.

Established and funded by the Thornburg Foundation, the Jeff Harnar Award for Contemporary Architecture was created to encourage excellence and creativity in design. The annual program is intended to also honor the memory of Jeff Harnar, a talented Santa Fe architect who successfully crafted modern materials and innovative design for projects that reside comfortably and respectfully with the rich architectural heritage and unique landscape found in New Mexico. 

The 2016 Award Jury was comprised of Margaret Griffin, principal, FAIA, Griffin Enright Architects, Los Angeles, Calif.; Gabriella Gutierrez, architect and University of New Mexico School of Architecture & Planning Associate Professor; Rick Joy, principal, Rick Joy Architects, Tucson, Ariz., jury chair; Juan Miró, licensed architect in Spain, Texas and New York, and professor at the University of Texas – Austin School of Architecture; and UNM student Emily L. Silva, master’s student in architecture at the UNM School of Architecture & Planning.

 Juror comments

This branch library offers a wonderful civic presence for the neighborhood, with a clear entry sequence, a public plaza, an inviting transparency and a tower that serves as a beacon for the community.  The building is carefully designed at all levels, from the overall layout down to the details, lighting and material selection.

Juan Miró

 This project is a great example of design excellence in contemporary design. The project is grounded in solid interior and exterior detailing to provide a nice mix of larger reading areas and more discrete gathering spaces that provide a respite within the design. The reading court at the front of the project complements a strong entry sequence and the well-articulated plan both separates and yet visually reconnects the interior spaces of the library.

Margaret Griffin