Se­ton Vil­lage makeover

Pasatiempo - - Art of Space -

The new home of the Academy for the Love of Learn­ing is tak­ing shape in Se­ton Vil­lage, south of Santa Fe. The non­profit ed­u­ca­tional or­ga­ni­za­tion, work­ing with Spears Ar­chi­tects, first thought of us­ing rammed-earth technology for its Academy Cen­ter walls but later set­tled on in­su­lat­ing con­crete forms. The cen­ter sports a con­tem­po­rary de­sign fea­tur­ing sharp cor­ners, a bar­rel roof, a wrap­around cable bal­cony, and big glass sur­faces formed by mas­sive slid­ing doors.

Be­sides the Academy Cen­ter, the cam­pus in­cludes two guest units, a care­taker’s quar­ters, and a cen­tral util­ity build­ing. The fa­cil­i­ties have been de­signed to ac­com­mo­date gath­er­ing rooms, a high-tech me­dia cen­ter, an art stu­dio, a per­for­mance space, and an area de­voted to the books, art­work, archives, and ar­ti­facts of a for­mer owner of the prop­erty — nat­u­ral­ist and writer Ernest Thomp­son Se­ton.

Se­ton, who bought the prop­erty in 1930, was the or­ga­nizer — some 28 years ear­lier — of a youth move­ment called Wood­craft In­di­ans, later re­named the Wood­craft League of Amer­ica. He was also a pro­lific wildlife il­lus­tra­tor and, in 1910, a co-founder of the Boy Scouts of Amer­ica. In 1930, he built the 32-room stone and adobe struc­ture that be­came known as Se­ton Cas­tle. In 2003 (57 years af­ter Se­ton’s death), Beu­lah Deanna (Dee) Se­ton Bar­ber sold the “cas­tle” and sur­round­ing acreage to the Academy for the Love of Learn­ing.

Founded in 1998 in Se­dona, Ari­zona, the academy evolved from a 10-year col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween academy pres­i­dent Aaron Stern (then dean of the Amer­i­can Con­ser­va­tory of Mu­sic in Chicago) and his men­tor, Leonard Bern­stein. A his­tory at the academy’s web­site (www.alove­oflearn­ says that, fol­low­ing Bern­stein’s death in 1990, Stern con­tin­ued to work with par­ents, teach­ers, and school ad­min­is­tra­tors “de­ter­mined to pro­vide a holis­tic, life-af­firm­ing

Academy for the Love of Learn­ing’s new build­ing, with the ru­ins of Se­ton Cas­tle in the back­ground; top, a room in Se­ton Cas­tle dis­play­ing Ernest Thomp­son Se­ton’s art­work in the 1950s; cour­tesy Academy for the Love of Learn­ing

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