By: Paul Weideman
Published online: Sunday, January 06, 2013
Appeared in: Home, Santa Fe Real Estate Guide
Edition: January 2013 Vol. 15 No. 10
The designers of a new Santa Fe building for Easter Seals, two residential projects, and the Santa Fe Community Convention Center were all winners in the 2012 design awards of the Santa Fe Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA).
Jamie Blosser and Faez Soud, AOS Architects, won a Citation Award for the Easter Seals Santa Maria El Mirador commercial project.
“I think the challenge and the opportunity was primarily about the owners, this fabulous nonprofit that’s been serving the developmentally disabled community in Northern New Mexico for the last 30 years,” Blosser said.
The new building is arranged around a south-facing courtyard, with ample openings for solar gain in winter, according to project materials. The courtyard is paved with masonry to act as a heat sink and extend the comfortable seasonal use of the space. A new kitchen encourages training in cooking and baking, and a computer lab is used for technology training.
“There are some therapies that focus on bringing the outdoors indoors and we wanted to focus on having it be as warm a space as possible, with some natural materials and colors and connection to the outdoors with landscaping,” Blosser said.
The architectural program called for spaces for Easter Seals clients, for administration, and for a new training component.
“They’re so excellent at what they do that they have begun training other nonprofits from around the country.”
The training center has a butterfly roof, a form the late Samuel Mockbee liked using in his Alabama-based Rural Studio.
“That’s interesting; he’s someone I admire tremendously,” Blosser said, but added that if there was a Mockbee tribute intended, it was only subconscious. “We really just wanted to provide an interesting space, rather than a simple box. We were trying to stay within a modest budget but not look like that.”
Jon Dick, Archaeo Architects, won for two projects: the Van Drimmelen/Gore Residence and an unbuilt El Paso residence. The home for John Van Drimmelen and his wife, Shelly Gore, built by Gianardi Construction, also won the Grand Hacienda Award in the 2011 Parade of Homes. It’s a very open plan, the living room and kitchen well-exposed to the outdoors via large windows and portales. The master bathroom is a standout space, with an unwalled shower and cabinets of lyptus wood.
“The idea is because the views are so present to build a very restrained, minimalist architecture,” Van Drimmelen said in 2011. He and Gore studied architectural design, and selected their architect, before they bought their Santa Fe lot.
The Power Point presentation provided by Dick to AIA-Santa Fe noted, “This was an exercise in keeping things minimal. It was a reductive process where we explored reducing the design down to its essence in an almost Zen-like manner… The site is steep and narrow and the hope was to keep the house as close to one level as possible. This required close attention to the topography so there was as little intervention onto the site as possible. The result is an expression of anchoring into the landscape on the back side, countered with elevated portals on the front that lifts one’s eye…”
His El Paso project was designed for “a very difficult site, steep and rocky, a classic desert environment,” Dick said. “The clients bought the site for a particular view south to the city, and it’s also panoramic, taking in western sunset views.
“The project is on the back burner right now, but I felt very fortunate even getting the job, because they interviewed a lot of firms, including Lake Flato and Rick Joy.”
The handsome design shows a number of horizontal slabs, some of which are cantilevered roofs over patio areas. “At the AIA awards,” Dick said, “jury chairman Emily Little [of the Austin, Texas, firm Clayton & Little] pointed out Richard Neutra details and when I accepted the award I said I stole from Neutra left, right and center. The client loves architecture and he loves Neutra.”
Beverley Spears, Spears Architects; and Michael Winters, Fentress Architects, won a Citation Award for the $51 million Santa Fe Community Convention Center.
“Sensitivity to the city’s scale and careful exterior elements ingeniously disguise the building’s massing,” according to materials provided to the AIA jury. “Flexible, adjustable interior and exterior spaces provide the ability to comfortably host a diverse set of concurrent users.”
The architects’ design objective was a state-of-the-art convention and community center deeply rooted in the spirit of Santa Fe.
They “followed Spanish Colonial building form as well as Pueblo Revival detail and massing,” Spears wrote in a guest column in The Santa Fe New Mexican in October 2008. “We brought the building to the street edge in the Spanish Colonial custom; we added portals, doors, windows and other elements of visual interest at the level of the sidewalk; we tried to save the old cottonwoods along Marcy; and we created a central courtyard linked to Marcy by an open-air but covered zaguan, a standard spatial arrangement in Spanish Colonial towns.”
The community center was designed and built to achieve a Gold rating in the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. Green features include underground rainwater cisterns, energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, and a reflective roof.
They employed salvaged timber from the Sierra Blanca forest fire for exterior lentils, corbels and portal woodwork. And nearly 90 percent of materials from demolition of the old Sweeney Convention Center was salvaged and recycled — including 65,000 bricks for the new center’s outdoor areas.