Access: 24/7, drive-by only (heed traffic!)
The “Big I,” the interchange of I-25 and I-40, located in the center of Albuquerque, is greatly enhanced by one of the largest landscape projects in the state, over 100 acres. The landscape design incorporated three distinct themes:
- foothill gardens reminiscent of those found throughout the Rio Grande Valley;
- linear orchards recalling agricultural areas of Central and Northern New Mexico; and
- sweeping forms, or “sweeps,” that mimic the arching flyovers of the interchange.
The design is enhanced by night lighting and the City of Albuquerque’s 1% for Art program. Seasonally flowering plants add beauty and interest throughout the year. About two-thirds of the plants are xeric (drought tolerant), while the remaining third are evergreens. Challenges of the landscape design and construction included: 48 separate “pieces” isolated by high-speed roads; erosion control on the steep slopes; and plant stability and adaptability on very steep slopes.
Landscape Architect: Morrow, Reardon, Wilkinson, Miller Landscape Architects (MRWM)
Landscape Contractors: Mountain West GolfScapes, Inc.; Leeco Grounds Management, Inc.
Awards: President’s Transportation Award for Highways from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (2002)
City of Albuquerque 1% for Art at “Big I”
Road Traffic Technology website describing “Big I” construction process
Big I Landscaping a Challenge, Albuquerque Journal, February 17, 2008