Recently, our friends at Modern Albuquerque shared digitized film footage they obtained depicting the construction of the Albuquerque Civic Auditorium. We celebrate the history of our city and the work of our firm, and are pleased to share this footage, along with some interesting trivia about this mid-century project.

The Albuquerque Civic Auditorium was an indoor arena, designed by SMPC’s predecessor firm, Ferguson, Stevens and Associates in 1955. Architects Gordon Ferguson and Donald Stevens came up with the idea of using an earthen mound as a form for the poured-in-place concrete dome.[1] An existing hill on the site was built up and shaped to specific dimensions, followed by a ten-day concrete pour. The earth was then excavated from under the dome to create the arena space. The finished dome was 62 feet high, 218 feet in diameter, and varied in thickness from 5 inches at the center to 2 feet at the edges.[3]  The auditorium was located east of downtown on Grand Avenue (now Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Ave.), between St. Joseph Hospital and Interstate 25. It had a capacity of 6,000 people.

The venue opened on April 27, 1957, with a performance by the Albuquerque Civic Symphony.[2] Over the years the venue hosted a number of notable acts, including Led Zeppelin in 1969 and Jimi Hendrix in 1970, just three months before his death. It was also the home venue of the University of Albuquerque Dons basketball team from 1963 to 1969.[3] However, the auditorium had poor acoustics and eventually fell from popularity as a music venue in favor of Tingley Coliseum and Popejoy Hall.[4] It was demolished in 1986.


  1. “Civic Auditorium Designs Follow Modernist Trend”. Albuquerque Journal. NM. April 22, 1955. p. 36.
  2. Venue information and background
  3. “St. Joseph’s to Buy Portable Gym Floor for Use in Auditorium”. Albuquerque Journal. November 16, 1963. Retrieved March 13, 2018 – via
  4. Palmer, Mo (February 14, 2008). “Albuquerque’s Civic Auditorium went from a landmark to the dustbin of history”. Albuquerque Tribune. NM. Archived from the original on November 12, 2011. Retrieved June 27, 2011.

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