When it came time to build additional campus housing, the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque gave itself a challenging assignment: Lose its reputation for having dungeon-style dorms and construct multiple apartment buildings with amenities to entice upperclassmen to remain on site. To meet the challenge, the school hired Austin, Texas–based American Campus Communities (ACC). On 18.5 acres adjacent to a basketball arena and shuttle-bus route, the developer built Lobo Village, 18 three-story, stucco-sheathed buildings, plus a community center. Phoenix-based architects Todd & Associates designed the complex in a thoughtful, modern interpretation of the region’s main vernacular styles. All compete with swank off-campus housing in monthly rents and amenities, says Jason Wills, SVP of development at ACC. Not surprisingly, the buildings are fully leased.


Upperclassmen living at Lobo Village can have fun at a resort-style swimming pool and hot tub, sand volleyball court, landscaped seating, barbecue pavilion, and wider sidewalks than usual so several students can stroll together. To fit the Southwestern locale, the buildings were sheathed in pueblo-style stucco with a nod toward playful modern design and pops of bright purple and orange. To meet LEED certification, the buildings were oriented away from the sun; the landscape was planted with drought-tolerant materials; low-VOC paint was used; and energy-efficient lighting and appliances were picked. Seventy-five percent of waste during construction was recycled, says principal architect Gary Todd, AIA.


Privacy, also, was requested for the new space, and each of the apartments contains a living room, kitchen, washer–dryer, and four bedrooms—all with private bathrooms for each student. Here, too, finishes were made to look attractive yet remain durable: vinyl plank rather than wood flooring; sofas and lounge chairs upholstered in leatherlike, durable fabrics; and metal feet for furniture.


Since being together was tops on most students’ wish lists, the property ­includes attractive gathering spaces, with a state-of-the-art game room and garage-style glass doors that lift up to meld indoors with outdoors. There’s also a two-level fitness center, a theater, and group study rooms. The look is a combination of colorful and youthful to fit this demographic while brightening the Southwestern palette, says designer Jill Lung, LEED AP, with Sixthriver Architects. She also chose practical materials—plastic laminate pool tables rather than wood; commercial-grade fabrics; and a large coffee table with legs made from reclaimed logs that look better banged up, she says.