© 2011-2016 Anna Wesolowska. All Rights Reserved.

A Thespian Hit in the Desert: NMSU

The project team of Holzman Moss Bottino,  ASA Architects, Kohler Ronan engineers made-up the a-list ensemble on New Mexico State University’s Center for the Arts project, each member bringing their particular strength and practiced hand to its design and construction. Having made its debut last december on the corner of Espina Street and University Avenue, the three-story academic building and theater continues to receive applause from its Las Cruces and University audiences. I spoke with students, staff and the public about photographing the new building and heard firsthand all the limelight this new facility continues to receive.


Experiencing the design for myself, from basement to rooftop, I enjoyed the drama this facility provides (literally and figuratively). Visual cues from the desert and environment have been implemented in the design. Firstly, the use of native stone on the building’s facade ties the new structure to the land on which it stands. Secondly, open air terraces off the multi-tiers lobby provide views of the spectacular Organ Mountains. Thirdly, the arroyo-like lobby and its six-panel mural (Salida Del Sol: Arroyos and sister to the theater's ceiling mural Salida Del Sol also by Meg Saligman) draws directly from the desert landscape of southern New Mexico.

What makes its design unique is that it stands apart from, yet compliments, and is in rhythm with the University’s historic Trost architectural style. Being the performing arts hub for NMSU, color brings energy and drama to the established concrete, sand and stone. Like the three unexpected rainbows I witnessed on my three day visit, it can bring a feeling of joy to all who see it. 

Inside, the Mark and Stephanie Medoff Theatre seats 460+ in such an intimate way, that  even when viewing a rehearsal of Properties of Light from the second balcony I felt close to the stage and engaged with the actors comfortably. On several occasions, I was privy to the facility’s rehearsal room in use and found the space to be is as open and light filled as are the staff and students within its walls.

When the curtain call finally came and I drove past NMSU’s Center for the Arts one last time, the rising sun illuminated this landmark building and evoked feelings of levity and celebration. Bravo NMSU!