Railyard planning a topic at AIA conference
“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
The Santa Fe Railyard map