Posts tagged with "Santa Fe":

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Nonprofit Vital Spaces converts Santa Fe's empty buildings into art spaces

Vital Spaces, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization based in Santa Fe, New Mexico is dedicated to the adaptive reuse of local vacant buildings into spaces for art events, exhibitions, and studios. Local real estate investor Jonathan Boyd was inspired to establish Vital Spaces after observing the city's overwhelming number of empty spaces, high rent, and underrepresentation of the area's younger and Native artists. "We see the lack of affordable spaces in Santa Fe as the biggest threat to sustaining a diverse cultural environment," the organization's website claims. In 2017, Boyd had several productive meetings with the organizers of Chashama, a similarly-minded organization based in New York City founded by actress Anita Durst that has secured over one million square feet for local artists. Since moving into a downtown property in Santa Fe in March of last year and establishing a midtown exhibition space shortly thereafter, Vital Spaces has made a significant presence within the local art community in a remarkably short amount of time. But its biggest breakthrough came this month after signing the lease to the campus of the former Santa Fe University of Art and Design, and the College of Santa Fe. The 64-acre campus, which includes a series of interconnected buildings designed by famed Mexican architect Ricardo Legoretta, has been sitting empty since May 2018, following the university's closure. This gave Boyd time to consider how the campus could become Vital Spaces' most significant contribution to the local art scene yet. Currently, the organization has plans to use the campus in-part to one day provide four- to-six art studio spaces and a large exhibition area, with the hopes of bringing in other organizations to curate shows and propose a wide range of uses for the site. Until the campus project is finalized, however, Vital Spaces will continue to focus its energy on the city's smaller vacant properties, starting this Fall with the use of vacant storefronts throughout downtown Santa Fe as displays for the work of local artists. "When we give artists space," reads Vital Spaces' mission statement, "we breathe life into our communities with innovative artistic programming that inspires Santa Feans of all ages and backgrounds; we bring economic vitality to those communities; we raise Santa Fe’s profile on the national art stage."
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Ohkay Owingeh tribe restores a historic central village in New Mexico

Thirty miles north of Santa Fe, New Mexico, Owe’neh Bupingeh, the central village of Ohkay Owingeh, has been the home of one of the 19 federally recognized Pueblo tribes in New Mexico for over 700 years. The village is organized around a series of plazas where hundreds of homes once stood. Although Owe’neh Bupingeh remains a vital cultural center of the Ohkay Owingeh tribe, only a small fraction of these homes survive today. Also containing important historic relics such as ancient homes and a 19th-century chapel, the area was in dire need of preservation and repair work to ensure deteriorated homes became inhabitable again. 

A plan by Philadelphia and Santa Fe–based Atkin Olshin Schade Architects simultaneously restores the area to its original form while providing quality housing within existing and new buildings. Based on the preservation values of the Ohkay Owingeh tribe, the plan was developed in close collaboration with tribal elders—oral histories played a major role in conceiving the future of the space. Thirty-four homes have been renewed so far as part of the ongoing project with grant funding from the New Mexico Historic Preservation Division and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). 

The preservation work is as much a community education effort as it is an architectural project. Training Pueblo students and residents in GIS and adobe construction ensures the longevity of Owe'neh Bupingeh while bringing quality homes and spaces to the local residents.
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Santa Fe live-work complex offers artists affordable housing amid critical shortage

Santa Fe’s housing shortage has reached critical levels in recent years, prompting comments that “the fabric of the community is weakened as precious resources—people’s time, energy, and money—are drawn away by housing costs or long commutes,” according to the Santa Fe New Mexican. With an estimated 5,000- to-10,000 additional housing units needed to ease the crisis, a debate has emerged over the market’s shift in focus toward short-term rentals and Airbnb listings rather than affordable long-term rentals. Siler Yard: Arts + Creativity Center hopes to be a small-but-mighty part of the solution by offering income-restricted living and working space for 65 artists. Planning for Siler Yard began in 2012 when Creative Santa Fe, an organization dedicated to “using collaboration and the power of the arts to reframe critical issues and drive positive change,” reached out to the nonprofit developer Artspace regarding the plausibility of creating an affordable living and working complex for Santa Fe artists. Over the next several years, the team commissioned designs by Atkin Olshin Schade Architects, Trey Jordan Architecture, da Silva Architecture, and Surroundings Studio. Most recently, the project was awarded a $10.4 million low-income housing tax credit from the State of New Mexico, officially launching the neighborhood into construction. Siler Yard will welcome applications from anyone who shows passion and commitment to creative pursuits. Applicants do not need to receive their primary income from creative work, and Siler Yards plans to include a variety of creatives, including musicians, writers, chefs, and designers. The units are capped in incremental amounts that will cater to mostly low- and very low-income residents, and more than half will include two or three bedrooms for families with children. In addition to the private units, the complex will include a shared maker space with specialized resources and space to host community workshops and classes. The project, overseen by nonprofit developers Creative Santa Fe and New Mexico Interfaith Housing, expects to break ground in spring 2020 with the full build-out completed sometime in summer 2021.
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SHoP Architects' SITE Santa Fe expansion is now open

Two years ago, SITE Santa Fe tapped SHoP Architects to expand and upgrade its home, a former beer warehouse turned museum in a rail yard. Now, images of the newly-opened museum expansion show how the low-slung building was transformed as a polished homage to its industrial surroundings. The contemporary art museum picked New York's SHoP for an addition to the home it has occupied since its founding in 1995. To access the new, 10,000-square-foot space, visitors pass under a metal prow and through an open forecourt to the main entrance. From there, the new program includes a bigger lobby, more outdoor space, 200-seat theater, a sculpture court, more space for education, and a new cafe and store. The extra room will enable the museum to host more exhibitions and reach a broader swath of visitors in Santa Fe, a city of 84,000, and the surrounding region. “We wanted the design to lend a quality of intimacy to the space but also open it up to the energy of the Railyard district,” SHoP Principal Christopher Sharples told CLADGlobal. “Together the new galleries, public gathering spaces, and the exterior entrance signal a mature sophistication throughout the space while also creating an iconic presence for the institution as it moves forward.”
The project broke ground in August 2016, and the museum opened early last month. In all, the expansion brings SITE Santa Fe's footprint to 36,000 interior and exterior square feet. Santa Fe, an artsy city already, is no stranger to adventurous architecture and design. In 2015, designers at Ouchhh, a Turkish studio, brought wild fractal projections to the Digital Dome of the Institute of American Indian Arts, the city's college and museum devoted to Native American art. Two years before that, WAMO Studio transformed a walk-in freezer into a new (dare we say "cool") office for its practice.
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Respecting the SITE

When outgoing executive editor Aaron Seward handed me the reins to the Southwest edition of The Architect’s Newspaper, it was an exciting moment. I have always had an affinity for the southwest: Its specificity of place has a different kind of attraction than the over-run, predictable architecture of larger cities. Some of this is the freedom and experimentation that open space offers, but there is also a local and environmental sensitivity that runs deep. The architecture of the southwest has its own agenda, often very linked to the natural environment. Fort Worth’s Kimbell Art Museum by Louis Kahn with its new pavilion by Renzo Piano derives much of its form through a response to the searing (and art-illuminating) Texas sun. New Age constructions of places like Crestone, Colorado, and Taos, New Mexico, embody the mystique of the desert in their Zen centers and Buddhist temples, while the passive solar technologies and houses made of tires take on their environments with a radical respect for nature. These aspirations are not particular to the southwest, but the southwest does them very well. Which is why two recent projects piqued my interest. The first is the recently opened Inde/Jacobs gallery by Swedish architects Claesson Koivisto Rune (CKR) in Marfa, Texas. The building takes cues from its context, which is the legacy of minimalist art. The solution is a smart and elegantly detailed series of galleries and outdoor spaces that produce effects inspired by the likes of Donald Judd. Gallery walls float above a concrete floor, while on the exterior, windows and door shrink, making the building appear smaller. To some, CKR’s approach might seem slightly fetishized and lacking the profundity of Judd et al., but the nuance of such a strategy at least partially captures the unique spirit of the place and delivers a narrative through effects, just like the minimal works that are displayed in its gallery. Across the West Texas border, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, a different story is unfolding. Another world-class institution, SITE Santa Fe, recently unveiled a new building that includes additional galleries, a 250-seat auditorium and event space, educational facilities, and a “SITElab.” The design architects are New York’s prolific SHoP Architects. It is a peculiar choice, given that ShoP’s best building is the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn and its specialty is developer-driven condominium towers. Of course there are two philosophies to hiring architects: Some prefer locals, while others bring in fresh blood. In places that don’t have tons of high-profile architecture, either choice can produce interesting architecture. The SHoP design, however, does not do its incredible context justice. The building is essentially the fourth and fifth floors of a Midtown Manhattan super-tall luxury building, cropped on the corner to look like L.A.’s Broad Museum, and cloaked in a perforated metal skin that would be more at home in Manhattan than even the most industrial parts of Santa Fe. While it is hard to refute the designers’ preconstruction claim about how the skin will filter light, it is not hard to see the vapid metaphor that they have tried to incorporate in the facade. According to a press release, it is derived from “Navajo weaving patterns,” which translates to triangles. Of course, this is what we could have expected from SHoP, which hasn’t really completed a high-profile cultural project at this level since the early 2000s. Perhaps it is a product of scaling up and scaling back down, or maybe it is an attempt to bring New York to Santa Fe. But with a place that has a natural and cultural environment so rich for architectural intervention, the new SITE Santa Fe leaves a lot to be desired. It has none of the desert weirdness or phenomenological respect for nature that other great southwest architecture has. Richard Gluckman’s original SITE building renovation kept a tastefully low profile, deferring to the remote locale. Greg Lynn’s bubble entrance was part alien, part trailer—a bizarre desert object. As for the new SITE, perhaps it is just SHoP being SHoP, and bringing a little slice of glitzy, New York-caliber, totalizing gentrification to the sublime desert landscape. Paradoxically, that might be super interesting, but I doubt it.
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Palm Springs Architecture & Design Center opens tomorrow, November 9th

Palm Springs Architecture and Design Center will officially open on November 9 with its inaugural exhibition, An Eloquent Modernist, E. Stewart Williams, Architect. Williams is a member of the group of early post-World War II architects that landed in the Coachella desert and helped turn the resort into a fledgling center of modern design mostly for vacation and retirement homes but also of schools, commercial buildings, and civic monuments. Williams fittingly designed the building that houses the new museum as the Santa Fe Federal Savings in 1961. It has now been entirely renovated by Marmol Radziner and seems to easily work as an exhibition space with an uninterrupted, unified and open plan that both contains space and opens up to the beautiful landscape beyond. The glass and steel building has many of the design details like brise-soleil, terrazzo flooring, sliding grates, and grills and columns that mark high modernism in southern California but are not usually seen in commercial structures like banks. In fact, it works perfectly for a museum and exhibition space devoted to design and architecture. The 13,000-square-foot facility will also house an archive and design collection in its basement level that allows it to create an ambitious facility devoted to design. The Palm Springs Art Museum, the parent of this new architecture and design center named the Edward Harris Pavilion, has assembled a talented and passionate team to direct the future of the center. A museum devoted simply to architecture might be hard to program after the first few exciting years but the managing director of the museum, J.R. Roberts, will open up its programming to include fashion, automobile design and other design disciples. The Executive Director of the Palm Springs Art Museum, the historian Dr. Steven Nash, has announced that the museum has been able to raise the $5.7 million (including the building purchase) it needs to renovate the bank and support several years of programming that is critical to running any sort of cultural facility in the 21st century. Finally, this team includes the accomplished daughter-in-law of Stewart Willams-Sidney who wil be the new museum's head curator. There are virtually no models for an architecture and design museum in this country so it will be fascinating to watch this facility in the next decade as it grows and develops.
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Ice Cream Freezer Reinvented as Santa Fe Architecture Office

Santa Fe, New Mexico–based architecture firm WAMO Studio recently moved into a cool new office—a former walk-in ice cream freezer. The repurposed space, formerly used by Taos Cow Ice Cream to store frozen treats. The 550-square-foot freezer offers a sleek and industrial space with sheet metal walls and industrial-strength insulation. After a few adjustments, WAMO has transformed it from a frigid container to a viable workspace. Partner and architect, Vahid Mojarrab, described the space to the Santa Fe New Mexican as “a perfect fit” for the husband-and-wife architecture company, which specializes in energy-efficient and high-performance design. Mojarrab and his wife, Carol Ware, had been searching for office space for their joint venture since he split from his former architecture partnership earlier this year. When a friend from Taos Cow mentioned a vacant freezer for lease on the ice cream company’s property, WAMO Studio realized the conversion easily: cutting holes for three windows and a door, removing the freezer’s compressor, and adding a heat pump for temperature control. Mojarrab is excited to reveal that the unit is about 50 percent more energy efficient than a common office space because of the insulated sheet metal construction that served its original purpose. Finding a way to recycle current architecture while improving its energy efficiency is something he believes affects the inhabitants of a building as well as its proprietor. “[E]ventually, the tenant pays for it,” he told the New Mexican. “At the end of the year, your landlord comes to you and says, ‘Your utility bill is so high I have to raise your rent.’” The rest of the Taos Cow property, including two separate walk-in freezers, is still dedicated to ice cream storage. With the majority of the original structure, including the freezer door, intact, the office of WAMO Studio blends inconspicuously into its surroundings. WAMO Studio is dedicated to environmentally conscious and site sensitive architecture. They are currently focused on Passive House certified endeavors.
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Save the Soleri Santa Fe Theater!

An earth-formed concrete amphitheater designed by Paolo Soleri may be demolished later this summer. One of only a handful of structures built by Soleri, the open-air theater (known as the “Paolo”) is on the campus of the Santa Fe Indian School, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The school commissioned Soleri to design the theater in 1964, and though it has been used for graduations and concerts since that time, the school now believes that it costs too much to maintain, and says it brings drunken crowds onto the campus during events. Built using student labor from the school, the structure was designed to “frame the sun and the moon,” and operate like an Elizabethan theater with bridges and ramps that allow performers to access various levels above, below, and behind the stage. A dramatically arched form over the stage covers the principal performance area, and according to Soleri was created of “trenched earth that captures the shape and consistency of the earth itself.” On June 11, New Mexico's Cultural Properties Review Committee urged the school to rethink its plans to raze the structure, and the Santa Fe City Council has also called for the theater's salvation. Soleri, who will turn 91 on June 21, has been rallying admirers of the earthen structure, noting in a statement, “I am willing to do anything to support the preservation of the theater.” His Cosanti Foundation is working with a variety of organizations to prevent its demolition, as well as raising funds to help the theater continue to serve the Santa Fe Indian School students and the broader Santa Fe community. Update: Soleri advocate Conrad Skinner sends this note:
The Paolo received a reprieve July 19 when Everett Chavez, SFIS Superintendent responded positively to an offer of help by New Mexico Senators Udall and Bingaman.  A core of preservation advocates, including Indian School alumni, have worked out the petition linked below in the belief that we must not sit on our hands but urge the stakeholders and the purse-holders to join in establishing funding and a working relationship to ensure this unique venue's future. Funding is crucial;  the Paolo lies on sovereign Indian land where most monies come through Federal appropriations. Please read our online petition and, if you agree with our position, add your signature and send the link to your friends, colleagues and students.