Bureau Of Geology Sets Grand Opening For Friday

SOCORRO, N.M. May 5, 2015 – The campus community is invited to a ceremonial ribbon-cutting and grand opening of the new Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources building, known as the Chuck and Jessie Headen Center, at 10:30 a.m. Friday.

Following the ceremony, the building will be open for visitors to walk through the public spaces. Bureau staff members will be available to talk about the new facility, labs and other spaces.

The new $24 million building is 85,000 square feet and three stories. Construction was paid for by an $18 million General Obligation Bond approved by New Mexico voters in 2012, and a $6 million appropriation during the 2013 legislative session.

The new Bureau has consolidated all its lab spaces into the new building. The New Mexico Mineral Museum and the Bureau’s bookstore have modern, accessible spaces for the public to take advantage of.

“The new building is stunning,” Bureau Director Greer Price said. “This is the first time we’ll all be in one building in more than 50 years. I think it is a landmark and a beautiful addition to the campus.”

The Headen Center is named for former residents of Socorro, Chuck and Jessie Headen, who bequeathed the bulk of their estate to New Mexico Tech. Chuck Headen passed away in 2011, three years after his wife. The estate, managed by the Headen Trust, was settled in late 2014, and was valued at more than $11.5 million. Tech received the first annual payment from the Trust earlier this year for more than $500,000, all of which supports the university’s scholarship fund.

The Bureau formerly had most of its offices in one building, with the museum and some laboratories in the Gold Building. Price said he expects to see an increase in visitors once the Bureau relocates.

“People have a hard time finding us and finding the museum,” Price said. “The new building will be the first thing people see when they come in on Bullock Avenue.”

The main lobby features public spaces – the Mineral Museum on the north side and the publication office on the south side. Administrative offices are above the publication office. The museum includes a second-floor classroom for visiting school children.

The west half of the building has three floors, with labs on the first and second floor. The second and third floors houses offices, conference rooms, and classrooms, including a Smart Classroom.

Price said the new museum will allow for much larger exhibits. Currently, less than half of the museum’s collection is on display. Price said the exhibit space will almost double.

The building also features 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.

The area includes a fountain, a pond, walkways, seating areas, an amphitheater-style grassy area, New Mexico Tech signage and a picnic/study area.

The water feature was 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 includes cottonwood trees, a sycamore, shrubs and several smaller trees. The large seating area includes several tables and benches, surrounded by a tiled banco.

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

Tech is also seeking artwork for both the building, the park area and the courtyard, which can be accessed from the west side of the new building.

– NMT –