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New Mexico State University
Facilities Planning & Construction

Campus Master Plan - Human Scale

Drawing of Campus Scene
Drawing of Campus Scene

New Mexico State University is commonly regarded at the top of New Mexico Institutions of higher learning. Enrollment is high for a campus not part of a major urban development. The high enrollment can be explained partly by high academic standards. The remaining part of the explanation is probably due to the ambience of the campus, to the intangible something that inspires the first time visitors to say "Seems like a nice place..."

It is in the university's interest to preserve and to foster the ambience of a nice place. What makes the campus a nice place? The complexities of human psychology that govern spatial perception, and lead to either acceptance or rejection of an environment, are too little known to permit precise explanation. However, we know human beings feel better in environments that make them feel safe, of which they feel part. One quantifiable element of an environment that affects us is size and scale of the physical features around us.

In direct contravention of the age, NMSU grew and preserved human qualities in appearance, in its unspoken philosophy and in a way of life. Much of this success can be ascribed to the surrounding Hispanic culture, which steadily influenced its growth.

It is vital to the success of our institution that this unique educational environment be preserved and continued. In contrast with many other universities in Texas, Arizona, Utah and Colorado, the NMSU Campus has to maintain its character and scale to preserve its special identity.

Because physical plant is permanent due to its cost and sheer mass, errors cannot be corrected for decades. We have to avoid erecting inappropriate buildings.

Every new building and physical feature has to be evaluated in its complexity, rather than by set rules, but certain general rules can be stated. Buildings with excessive height or volume would be foreign to the campus. Squeezing out open spaces, providing excessive use of automobiles within the Main Quadrangle, designing harsh surfaces and unbalancing the volumes against each other or against open spaces will lower attractiveness of the campus.

It may be there is an ideal size to an institution of higher learning and, once we exceed this size, we decrease the quality, attractiveness and the human content of the campus.