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Civic Plaza Playground Open, Solar installed, as City Nears End of Two Years of Major Upgrades to Civic Plaza

Reinvigorated Civic plaza becomes Downtown attractions for families, boost City sustainability efforts, improve convention facilities

November 30, 2019

Today, during Winterfest 2019, Mayor Tim Keller marked the grand opening of the new iconic playground on Civic Plaza—the second-to-last in a long-running series of upgrades to Civic Plaza that have boosted City sustainability with solar pagodas, improved convention facilities and capability, and made Downtown Albuquerque a gathering place for families and the community at large. 

“Downtowns drive the success of entire cities—and in Albuquerque we’re revitalizing our Civic Plaza to bring families and the community together in the center of the city. You can see it at United Watch Parties, music festivals, and now, when we look out the window at City Hall and see dozens of families enjoying the splashpad or the new playground,” Mayor Tim Keller said. “Our public spaces elevate Albuquerque’s sense of community.”

Chief Operations Officer Lawrence Rael said, “It’ll be great to see more kids and parents on Civic Plaza. It’s a fun, family-friendly place, like an old drive-in movie, minus the cars. Those had big screens and playgrounds too, but not this nice!”

The new playground signals that major construction on the plaza is nearing an end after two years of work. Projects align with Mayor Keller’s goals to bring families back downtown, make Albuquerque more sustainable, and increase the draw for conventions and visitors that generate revenue in the local economy.

They have included:

  • Completion of the iconic playground;
  • Installation of a splashpad water feature for kids and families;
  • Upgrades to the screen at the Al Hurricane, Jr. Pavilion;
  • Solar pagodas that provide shade and power for the plaza;
  • Renovation of a tunnel making it easier to access the convention center;
  • Repair and structural improvements in the parking garage; and
  • Installation of Electric Vehicle Charging Stations in the parking garage.

The final step of the long-term project, already underway, is final phase of the installation of solar panels that will generate 242 kW of power. Solar panels are in place on the two shade structures that run north and south along Third Street. The final phase will involve placing panels atop the Al Hurricane, Jr. Pavilion. 

The playground was already popular with families visiting Downtown for Winterfest today. Its design incorporates many native New Mexican features, evolving from a local cactus, the prickly pear, with the climbing nets stretching across the arched frames representing the spiny cactus pads called cladodes. Prickly pear fruits are incorporated as bright red accents with fallen fruit functioning as stepping stools; the fallen fruit entice kids to jump from one dimple to the next. The large lizard is inspired by the southwestern fence lizard and is an accessible route for the public to enjoy to the space.

The playground is covered with durable shade structures, providing protection for visitors and equipment. The main metal “community” slide is the largest in the city.