New Isleta complex provides centralized services for pueblo

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Going north on N.M. 47, a thatch of metal rises from the east like a cluster of giant, silver willows bending proudly in a breeze, containing the Isleta Pueblo Tribal Council Chambers in the new Isleta Tribal Services Complex building.

Ungelbah Daniel-Davila-News-Bulletin photo: The Pueblo of Isleta moved into its new Tribal Services Complex in December. Many of the pueblo’s government offices are housed in the new location on N.M. 47.

The unusual architecture is intended to be “iconic,” says Simon Shima, director of Isleta’s planning and development.

“It’s up to the beholder how to interpret it,” he said, adding, that to him, it symbolizes the bosque as well as a shield “guarding the tribal council.”

“It’s very symbolic,” he said.

Planning for the building began in 1996 with the intention of it being a judicial complex.

“That was the genesis,” says Shima. “We didn’t start out to be this large — we didn’t have the funding.”

But along the way, funding came and the project evolved, and by 2007 the scope had expanded to include all of the tribal offices in one complex — a satellite governor’s office, administration, tribal council, police department, fire department, tribal court and appellate court, plus a fitness center for fire and police and a cafe.

Funding came from three state capital outlay bills, totaling $1,125,000, and a loan from New Mexico Finance Authority.

“This is a kind of focal point,” he said. “Most of (the tribe’s) needs will be met at one spot.”

Before moving into the Tribal Services Complex in December, employees often had to drive 10 miles out of their way to get business taken care of as offices were scattered from one end of the pueblo to the other.

Besides that, Shima says many of the buildings were not energy efficient, so in the long run, having all the offices in one location in an energy efficient complex will save the pueblo money as well as save employees time.

Instead of driving 10 miles for the treasure as he did in the past, the treasure is now down the hall, said Shima.

“There is synergy here,” he says. “This is a tremendous achievement on our part.”

Construction took two years, divided into a two phases — site development and building, which was bided out to two different companies.

Site development was done by PACE Pacific Corporation from Phoenix, a Native American, woman-owned firm, according to their website.

Construction was done by Albuquerque-based Jaynes Companies, and the architecture was designed by Rohde May Keller McNamara Architecture PC, of Albuquerque.

“This is a beautiful building,” says Shima of the complex that overlooks the rive and the bosque from the north end of the pueblo.

The complex recently won the American Institute of Architecture Albuquerque chapter’s Honors Award and the Award of Merit: Government/Public Building from ENR Southwest.


-- Email the author at udavila@news-bulletin.com.