The Center for Land Use Interpretation Newsletter

Land of Anticipation

Students Make Exhibit About Mesa Del Sol
students from Albuquerque Academy
The students from Albuquerque Academy who put together the Mesa del Sol exhibit. Louis Schalk photo

AN EXHIBITION ABOUT MESA DEL Sol was put together by students from Albuquerque Academy, and presented in the CLUI Exhibit Unit, located at the base of the mesa, at the end of Los Picaros Road. The exhibit featured photographs, text, paintings, and drawings on photographs, all made by the students, with text panels that described elements of the place with considerable thought and detail.

Mesa del Sol is a proposed development project on an empty mesa bearing that name, 10 minutes south of downtown Albuquerque. If it is built out as planned, it would fill in the southern limit of the city with a master-planned 20 square mile urban area, with as many as 100,000 people in four separate villages, built over the next 30 years. One of the largest “greenfield” developments in the West, the Mesa del Sol project is three times larger than the oft-cited mega development at the former Stapleton airport in Denver.

Though some commercial buildings have been constructed, and some infrastructure built, the project is on hold, pending a change in economic conditions. Its stasis and vacancy gives the land a sense of calm that is dreamlike. Drawn in to consider the space, one feels like an anachronistic voyeur, as if scanning an image of a video frame of a movie placed on pause. You are wandering in a place that is poised, and asked to extrapolate the future. Visiting it is a unique opportunity to see a proto-city, a potential place, a future not yet realized.

The exhibit opened December 10, 2009, and was on display through January 10, 2010. It was produced by the students of the AP-2D Design class at Albuquerque Academy, led by their teacher Louis Schalk. 

CLUI photo
The waiting-scape of Mesa del Sol, with Albuquerque Studios in the distance. CLUI photo