Newly Opened Student Centre in US Showcases Innovative and Energy Efficient Design

Diamond Schmitt Architects teamed up with Studio Southwest Architects to design a new project in Las Vegas, Nevada, United States. It’s about the Student Centre at the New Mexico Highlands University, which was started in 2010 and it was recently completed, this summer.  The three-story building is situated at an important crossroads on the edge of the campus, being a central meeting point that links the campus with the rest of the city of Las Vegas. Envisioned to meet students’ needs of having a much larger space, NMHU Student Centre showcases a modern, highly innovative and energy efficient design both inside and outside.


With the goal to obtain LEED Gold certification for this Student Centre, Diamond Schmitt Architects designed a building that make us of innovative technologies and passive design to respond to the capricious desert climate defined by  hot summers, monsoons, cooler nights and even cold winters, but also to minimize energy consumption and maximize the free energy potential of the sun.

The most important feature is that the building benefits from, is the motorized sun traking louver system on the south side used to shade the interiors from direct sunlight during the day and opens during the night. This system is said to be one of the first of its kind in North America. The louvers enable sun shading to the grade levels without compromising view and transparency. In this way, the system drastically reduces mechanical loads. To help its mechanical energy system, besides the louvers, the building also features green roofs and geothermal well field.

Inside the NMHU Student Centre, there are various zones (study, meeting, programatic areas), versatile ballroom and conference facility, bookstore, theatre, café, post office and cafeteria that opens onto a sheltered courtyard. A computer lab, student offices, meeting rooms, dining rooms and a dramatic student governance chamber are to be found on the upper floors. The second floor has a bridge that is linked with the adjacent library.

Photos © Robert Reck

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