An exercise in archaeologically correct Spanish Colonial architecture, at least in appearance, the Alumni Memorial Chapel was effectively John Gaw Meem’s last work for the University of New Mexico campus.
The chapel was conceived in the wake of World War II to honor university alumni killed in the country’s wars. Based on designs that Meem drew up between 1947 and 1954, it was erected in 1960–1962 by his successor firm of Holien and Buckley. Built with walls of concrete block, the chapel emulates the massing of traditional adobe structures and is modeled after a recognized type of mission church that Meem had already copied multiple times since 1928. The single-nave sanctuary with a transept clerestory has a characteristically inset facade, with a balcony over the entrance between two buttress towers and a crowning bell cote. The altar screen by John Tatschl was painted, at a later date (1983–1984), with images of New Mexican saints by the santero John M. Gonzales, a traditional painter of religious images.
Bunting, Bainbridge. John Gaw Meem: Southwestern Architect. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico, 1983.
Hooker, Van Dorn. Only in New Mexico: An Architectural History of the University of New Mexico. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico, 2000.
University of New Mexico. Department of Facility Planning Records. Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico.
University of New Mexico. Department of Facility Planning Drawings. Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico.