Albuquerque architects open Farmington office

James Fenton
From left, Paul Fiest and Rich Price, with Soteria Group, and FBT Architects president Art Tatum explore the construction at Farmington High School on Oct. 15.

FARMINGTON — An Albuquerque-based architectural firm has opened a Farmington office to handle a number of projects the business is taking on.

FBT Architects, which also has an office in Lubbock, Texas, opened its third office nationally in the city's downtown this summer and held an open house party to officially announce its arrival earlier this month.

Sanjay Engineer, who specializes in educational design for the firm, said FBT Architects, which was established in Albuquerque in 1973, opened the new location because of increased work in the Northwest corner of the state. The business hired architect Kelly Jernigan to run the Farmington office on Orchard Avenue. Jernigan was previously the regional manager of the state Public Schools Facilities Authority.

Paul Fiest and Rich Price, with Soteria Group, and FBT Architects president Art Tatum talk on Oct. 15 at a Farmington High School construction site.

Arthur Tatum, FBT Architects' president and managing partner, said the firm, which is the fourth largest in New Mexico, aims to expand its reach and opening the Farmington office was spurred by Jernigan.

"Having Kelly able to step in and lead the office made expanding our reach into Farmington a no-brainer," Tatum said.

The firm is currently involved in three major projects for the Farmington Municipal School District, including the $73 million construction of Farmington High School.

The district's Chief of Operations, Ted Lasiewicz, said FBT has been a valued partner on the project, which is scheduled for completion by the summer of 2018, and two others completed this fall —  Hermosa Middle School and Northeast Elementary School.

"Both of these projects were fast-tracked and done simultaneously," Lasiewicz said. "If (FBT Architects) had not done these well and on-time, I wouldn’t have had a place for 1,200 students."

Both Hermosa and Northeast, schools situated across the street from each other, were completed for about $19 million apiece under the "construction manager at risk" method, which keeps the contractor and architects working in close collaboration on a project, which is designed to keep costs down and delivering the work on time, Lasiewicz said.

The school projects are a vital part of the work the firm handles throughout the Four Corners region, which include completed grade school buildings for the Central Consolidated School District, and school buildings in Gallup, Grants and Bayfield, Colo.

Sanjay Engineer, with FBT Architects, tours a construction site at Farmington High School on Oct. 15.

The firm designs more than school buildings, however, Engineer said.

"While we have focused on education projects, we do a lot of health care, colleges, government and city projects and hospitality work as we branch out into the Four Corners market," Engineer said. "We've been wanting to expand our market in the (Farmington) area.

The firm, which employs 49 people company-wide, has six ongoing projects in the area and hopes to expand its work onto the Navajo Nation and Jicarilla Apache Nation.

The firm recently completed work at Naschitti Elementary School and will complete a $1.2 million Piedra Vista High School weight room expansion in November, he said.

Engineer said he likes to focus on sustainable building principles and create healthy learning environments that motivate and inspire its occupants. The firm uses the project location and suggests locally available materials, incorporating the natural characteristics of the area into the designs.

"Farmington high will be a leader in the nation in terms of sustainability, security and design," he said. "And it has tons of natural light. That's the goal. We try to make every building respond to its unique site and capture the essence of that community."

James Fenton is the business editor of The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4621.

From left, FBT Architects president Art Tatum, Soteria Group senior analyst Rich Price and principle senior analyst Paul Fiest on Oct. 15 tour the construction site at Farmington High School.

More Information

What: FBT Architects

Where: 108 N. Orchard Ave., Suite 202, in Farmington

Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday

More info: Call 505-278-7271 or visit