What’s Happening At The New Bureau of Geology Building?

SOCORRO, N.M. February 19, 2015 – Many people have been wondering and asking about the earth work going on in what was formerly a drainage area at the corner of Leroy Place and Bullock Street.

No, it’s not going to be parking, nor will it be a simple grassy area as it was before construction. Tech is planning a scenic park-like area that will serve as a signature entryway to the university campus and a scenic front to the new Bureau of Geology building.


An artist's rendering of one of the sitting areas in the new park that is under development at the site of the new Bureau of Geology building.

Courtesy of Van H. Gilbert Architect


Architectural plans for the new park area


Miguel Hidalgo, Director of Special Projects said the area will include a fountain, a pond, walkways, seating areas, an amphitheater-style grassy area, New Mexico Tech signage and a picnic/study area. Hidalgo said credit for the plan goes to university President Dr. Daniel H. Lopez.

“President Lopez called me up and said, ‘We have this beautiful $24 million building at the cornerstone of campus, but you hit that stop sign and there’s no sense of entry to New Mexico Tech’,” Hidalgo said. “President Lopez wanted to do something nice at that corner to signify a sense of entry to campus.”

The water feature is being built of native rocks and boulders gathered from ‘M’ Mountain – a small fountain that feeds into a pond. Several benches will be placed around the pond, which will be in the northeast portion of the lot.

The landscaping will include four existing cottonwood trees, a sycamore, shrubs and several smaller trees. The large seating area will include several tables and benches, surrounded by a tiled banco.

“This is the main approach to campus and it should be inviting and attractive,” Lopez said. “This tells a lot about how the school is managed and that we take pride in the university. The main entry point should is where people will be impressed by the quality of our facilities and the work we do.

Hidalgo said Tech will seek artwork for both the building, the park area and the courtyard, which can be accessed from the west side of the new building. The construction cost includes funding for Art In Public Places program. Tech will set up a committee to solicit proposals from artists.

Construction of the new Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources building is nearly complete. The Bureau will begin moving into the new building in March. The building will be called the Charles and Jessie Headen Center, named after a former Socorro businessman and his wife who donated the bulk of their estate to New Mexico Tech for scholarships. The new 85,000 square foot building will allow the Bureau to house all of its laboratories, the Mineral Museum, the publications office and store, offices, conference rooms and classrooms in one location for the first time in its 85-year history.

– NMT –

By Thomas Guengerich/New Mexico Tech