The School of Architecture and Planning is an integral part of the University of New Mexico. While the University was founded by an act of the Territorial Legislature in 1889, the role of designing and building settlements in the Rio Grande valley has been prominent in the development of the region since statehood in 1912. The School has strong historic ties with both the College of Engineering and the College of Fine Arts on the main campus. The University of New Mexico has been educating architects since the early part of the twentieth century.

In 1936, the first architectural concentration was established within the College of Fine Arts. By 1947, a four-year architectural engineering program was approved within the College of Engineering and grew to an enrollment of 70 students.  In 1956, a five-year architectural program was established in the Division of Architecture, responsible to both the College of Engineering and the College of Fine Arts.  The University discontinued the architectural engineering in 1960 and established a Department of Architecture within the College of Fine Arts.

A five-year professional degree of Bachelor of Architecture was accredited in 1966, and then phased out the following year, leading to the establishment of a 4+2 undergraduate / graduate program. The National Architectural Accrediting Board accredited the Master of Architecture degree in 1968.

In 1969 the Design and Planning Assistance Center was established, and remains in existence to today. It is the second oldest university based design center in the country. The Architecture Department evolved to become an independent School of Architecture and Planning in 1975, organized into programs run by Directors.  A four-year undergraduate pre-professional degree of Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Planning and Design was added in 1978.  It later evolved into the Bachelor of Arts in Environment Planning and Design.

Although Landscape Architecture had been taught in the school for 25 years, the Master of Landscape Architecture became the third program in 2000.  As the school grew, it became necessary to construct a new building that could gather the three disciplines into a new shared home. New Mexican Architect Antoine Predock won the competition to design the building, named George Pearl Hall.  The building was completed and occupied in 2008. In 2016, the Bachelor of Arts in Architecture (BAA) was restructured to include three concentrations within the degree:   Pre-Professional Architecture; Design Studies; and Landscape Architecture. In 2017, the three programs in the School of Architecture + Planning (Architecture, Community & Regional Planning and Landscape Architecture) were converted back to Departments, which returned the titles of the three Directors to Chairs.

Currently over 200 undergraduate students are enrolled in the Bachelor of Arts in Architecture (all three concentrations) and 104 graduate students are enrolled in the Master of Architecture (the professionally accredited degree) or the research-oriented Master of Science in Architecture degree.