The KiMo Theatre is a fascinating and historic landmark located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on the northeast corner of Central Avenue and Fifth Street. The theatre was built between 1922-1927 by local contractor Michael Lomeli who also designed its Art Deco style with rounded corners that blended adobe building traditions alongside native American designs for decoration; this blend became known as Pueblo Revival architecture (a combination made famous after its implementation). Today you can see these features firsthand at KiMo Theatre in New Mexico.
The KiMo is an architectural installation that was designed to honor the Native Americans who welcomed Oreste and Maria Bachechi into their tribe. The design process began after much travel, meetings with various architects in both New Mexico (where they lived) and California. He worked at another firm before finally accepting it from Carl Boller of the famous architecture company Boller Brothers. This man conducted extensive research about Southwest cultures, so his final submission would be appropriate for this region- something few others had done.
The thriving theater is a three-story stucco building with the stepped massing characteristic of native pueblo architecture and an interior design that incorporates many indigenous motifs. One example includes shields above third-floor windows, reminiscent of those found on ancient pottery pieces from Mexico’s Valley Of The Sun region.
1927 saw the birth of America’s newest theater, and it was an event that would change how we think about theaters forever. The competition to choose its name attracted more than 3 thousand entries from all over North America. The winning entry not only had this fittingly campy title but also made use of Mexico’s rich culture in its design, combining Aztec symbols with Navajo artwork (and even some bits taken directly off ancient ruins) like so many other architects before them. The winning entry in this contest was submitted by former Governor of Isleta Pueblo, Pablo Abeita. His suggestion for an invented word meaning “mountain lion” or “king of beasts” was chosen over other proposals that suggested things like kitty cats and puma but not just any old feline – it had to be larger than life.
The installation of new seating and carpet, the main stage curtain, a tech booth with lighting positions hidden behind “vigas” on the ceiling made this restoration more immersive for audiences. The re-creation also includes an authentic proscenium arch, just like what you would see in any old movie theater from decades ago. In 2011, a replica of the original neon sign from 1929 was commissioned. This $16K project took two months and involved many people who worked tirelessly to bring this historic landmark back into shape for our modern-day society.
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