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Pete V. Domenici U.S. Courthouse and McClellan Park

By Edith Cherry and James See – August 23, 2019

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333 Lomas Blvd. NW, Albuquerque, NM 87102

Access: 505 348-2000 | Pete V. Domenici U.S. Courthouse  Security screening is strictly enforced at entrance (south side)

Pete V. Domenici U.S. Courthouse

The Pete V. Domenici U.S. Courthouse, a major public building in Albuquerque, employs time-honored Southwestern architectural traditions, including the use of natural masonry, additive massing, and carefully placed, vertically proportioned openings. The symmetry of the front façade reflects the balance of “equal justice for all.” The variety of masonry techniques adds texture to the exterior of the masses.

The central atrium, also symmetrical, is a dramatic space, seven floors high and topped by a domed skylight. The surrounding room layout reveals one of the first federal courthouses to group the judges’ offices together. Previously, judges’ offices were near a courtroom assigned specifically to that judge. This “shared courtroom concept” allows more efficient scheduling of the courtrooms.

Architectural design for courthouses is complicated today by two challenging functional requirements: 1. a high level of security must be addressed without having the facility look like a fortress; and, 2. separate interior circulation systems are required for the public, the defendants, and the judges.

Completed:  1998
Architect:  FMSM Architects
Contractor:  Centex Construction

McClellan Park (renewal)      

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The Domenici courthouse is sited on land that was developed in 1919 as McClellan Park; its original 1928 “Madonna of the Trail” sculpture is now located on the northwest side of the building. Plantings today surround the courthouse on all sides, but the multi-level native installations to the south dominate, and sit atop the underground, secured parking for the courthouse. The “force protection” (security) regulations for federal buildings have been well disguised by the landscape that prevents unauthorized vehicles from approaching the building.

The symmetrical installation emphasizes pedestrian entrances to the building from the street corners to the south. A wide variety of xeric plants suited to a drought-tolerant landscape are showcased, an appropriate replacement for the courthouse’s original green-lawn planting scheme. Seasonal variations in different planting types are punctuated by carved stone reliefs, thanks to GSA’s Art in Architecture program. Below ground, in addition to parking, cisterns store rainwater to be used on the landscape.

Renewal completed: 2012
Landscape Architects: Rios Clementi Hale Studios
Landscape Contractor: AIC General Contractors; The Hilltop MEP

Learn More:
Pete V. Domenici U.S. Courthouse (Wikipedia)

Pete V. Domenici U.S. Courthouse Sustainable Landscape Retrofit, Landscape Architecture Foundation, Washington, DC

Madonna of the Trail” sculpture (Wikipedia); Nat. Historic Reg. #06000151







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