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Albuquerque is a place defined by thousands of years of inhabitants. It has survived both boom and bust. It has been a sleepy town and a hive of activity. And the buildings and cityscapes tell the story of all of it.
The first things that come to mind when thinking about Albuquerque architecture are
adobe (the building material) and
pueblo (the style of building). Adobe is a mix of special mud and straw. Adobe bricks are mortared with adobe - to create the structure - and then the structure is plastered with more adobe to create a smooth, rounded-corner, seamless finish. The pueblo style of building has rounded corners, thick walls and flat roofs. Often, the roof beams extend through the front and back walls, looking something like a row of massive pegs. Inside, fireplaces are made of adobe, rounded and often in corners or between windows.
To see great exhibits and artifacts, visit the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. Owned and run by the 19 Indian Pueblos of New Mexico, this important center showcases the history of the Pueblo people through ancient artifacts, dance demonstrations and art exhibits. To see authentic old sites, you have to leave the city. The Coronado State Monument, north of Albuquerque in Bernalillo, is the ruins of a 14-17th century pueblo. North and West of Albuquerque, the Jemez State Monument contains ruins of a 14-17th century pueblo, as well as the church and living quarters built by early Fransiscan missionaries in the 1620s.
From here on out, the architecture is either non-descript because it was built in a hurry to accomodate city growth, or is an amalgamation of the pueblo style plus the popular styles of the day. Art Deco and Post-Modernism (among other styles) take on the Albuquerque magic.
During the Spanish colonial period, architecture was a blend of native and Spanish design elements:
Spanish Pueblo. It's likely your first taste of this will be at the airport, Albuquerque International Sunport. Other examples include: many buildings on the University of New Mexico campus, the Hotel Franciscan (1923), Jonson Gallery and House (1925), Leverett, William J., House (1925), The Old Airport Terminal (1939), Whitmer-McKinnon House (1920)
Pueblo Deco: KiMo Theatre (1927), Wright's Trading Post, the Skinner Building
Craftsman: Fourth Ward District (1900 -), Charles Grande House (1900), Huning Highlands Historic District (1875 - 1925), the Stamm House (1912)
Mission style: Alvarado Hotel (1902), Tomasa Griego de Garcia House (1850), Eighth Street-Forrester District (1900s), Enchanted Mesa Trading Post (1925), James N. Gladding House (also known as Kenneth Adams House) (1925), Horn Oil Co. and Lodge (1925)
Route 66 was built in the late 1920s, but what you see in the Nob Hill area reminds you more of the kitsch of the 1950s: neon signs, diners, metal signs, and motels.