Rai­l­yard plan­ning a topic at AIA con­fer­ence

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“Cre­ativ­ity in Sus­tain­able and Re­silient De­sign” is one of the topic ar­eas to be ad­dressed in the bi­en­nial con­ven­tion of the New Mex­ico chap­ter of the Amer­i­can In­sti­tute of Ar­chi­tects (AIA) Sept. 21-22. The other, “Com­mu­nity De­sign and Its Im­pact” in­cludes a cel­e­bra­tion of the 20th an­niver­sary of the AIA Santa Fe-spon­sored R/UDAT at the Santa Fe Rai­l­yard.

R/UDAT refers to the Re­gional Ur­ban De­sign As­sis­tance Teamof vol­un­teer ad­vi­sors that came to Santa Fe to help shape com­mu­nity-based plans for the old rail yards.

The ini­tial idea for the 37-acre site would have meant tear­ing up all of the rails for the de­vel­op­ment of a mall, a ho­tel, and other com­mer­i­cal uses. The city ul­ti­mately re­jected the plan, which had been shaped with lit­tle com­mu­nity in­put, and, in 1995, it pur­chased the site. Santa Fe ar­chi­tect Gayla Bech­tol sug­gested a R/UDAT process, in which the AIA brings in peo­ple to work with the lo­cal com­mu­nity.

There were fears that the pres­ence of out­side ex­perts would dis­cour­age com­mu­nity par­tic­i­pa­tion. So, a lo­cal plan­ning process was held first, with hun­dreds of peo­ple en­gag­ing in a se­ries of pub­lic hear­ings. The cen­tral ques­tion was, What are the uses peo­ple in Santa Fe want in the rai­l­yard?

Plans were firmed up by the na­tional R/UDAT team, but more than 7,000 Santa Feans took part in the process that re­sulted in the Rai­l­yard Park, the plaza, the re­vi­tal­iza­tion of some older build­ings and the con­struc­tion of new ones — and the first Rail Run­ner Ex­press train to reach Santa Fe from Al­bu­querque ar­rived dur­ing the grand open­ing events. “Peo­ple see it as a real com­mu­nity space, and that feels re­ally good,” Bech­tol said.

Bech­tol and Bar­bara Felix, the cur­rent pres­i­dents of AIA-Santa Fe and AIA-New Mex­ico, re­spec­tively, cu­rated the con­fer­ence ti­tled “Re­cast: Ar­chi­tec­ture is Trans­for­ma­tive.”

Hous­ton ar­chi­tect Car­los Jimenez (who was a ju­rist for the pres­ti­gious Pritzker Prize for 10 years) gives the first key­note ad­dress. It will be held on the evening ofThurs­day, Sept. 21, at the New Mex­ico His­tory Mu­seum. Other key­notes are Carl Ele­fante, the AIA pres­i­dent-elect, speak­ing on “De­sign Im­pact Mat­ters: Ar­chi­tects Shape Lives,” and Sara Mel­ton, NM Co­mu­nidades en Ac­cion y de Fe (CAFé), on im­mi­gra­tion re­form and the wall.

Also speak­ing are In­galil­lWahlroos-Rit­ter, Wood­bury Univer­sity; Harold Tru­jillo and Erica Ve­larde, New Mex­ico En­ergy Con­ser­va­tion and Man­age­ment Di­vi­sion; Matthew G. Trze­bi­a­towski, Phoenix, on “Ap­proach­ing Beauty”; Erin Sim­mons and Joel Mills, AIA Cen­ter for Com­mu­ni­ties by De­sign; Ch­eryl Mor­gan, Auburn Univer­sity; artist Mary Miss, City As Liv­ing Lab­o­ra­tory, New York; and Den­nis A. An­drejko, Rochester In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy.

See www.aias­antafe.org/re­cast for pric­ing and reg­is­tra­tion.— PaulWei­de­man

COUR­TESY GAYLA BECH­TOL

The Santa Fe Rai­l­yard map

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