Ashley Hartshorn Architect
Ashley Hartshorn is well on her way to being an architect. The Orlando native earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in architecture from Northeastern University and has completed her 5,600 hours of internship requirements. “It’s a long process, and you have to take seven exams,” she said in a recent interview.
Ashley works in the office of Barbara Felix, who was last year’s president of the Santa Fe chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and won an AIA award a year ago for a substantial roomrenovation project at La Fonda. Ashley, twenty-seven, came to Santa Fe because Northeastern is one of the few U.S. schools that has a co-op program. “Their undergraduate program is five years, and there are two periods of six-month internships while you’re still in school,” she said. “My first was in construction in Florida because my dad is a contractor. I came to Santa Fe for my second internship. I have family in Silver City and in West Texas, so I grew up going to Ruidoso and Santa Fe for vacations.” Felix contacted Northeastern because she wanted to participate in the co-op program.
“We had a good phone interview, and then I came here and got to work on La Fonda, which was huge for me,” Ashley said. “As a young associate starting out in a big office, you get stuck doing red lines [drafting notations and corrections] or administrative stuff, so this was a great opportunity to work on something
important and historic. It was also personally cool, because my family has history at La Fonda. My grandfather did plastering work there in the 1950s and the 1970s, and my grandparents honeymooned there.”
As part of the La Fonda job, Ashley worked with the National Park Service on tax credits that are available if you’re essentially restoring a historic building. In this case, part of the job was to bring the rooms more in line with Fred Harvey Company architect Mary Colter’s design for the hotel in the 1920s. “That was very clean, including colored concrete floors,” she said, “and we took off the 1970s carpeting and replaced all that lovely orange furniture. Some people weren’t happy about us peeling back the layers, because they saw that as the historic hotel.”
Ashley said the Felix firm just began construction of the last phase of the La Fonda restoration. This will be the most publicly visible, focusing on the lobby, the lounge, and the hotel’s main corridor. The young intern has been involved in AIA-Santa Fe on various levels, and she initiated the chapter’s first Canstruction competition, held last summer at Santa Fe Place.
“Canstruction is a nationally recognized program that has raised awareness for ongoing food-insecurity issues in New Mexico and elsewhere,” Felix said. “Last year Ashley co-founded our first inaugural event, which raised more than 8,600 pounds of food.”
In Canstruction, each competing team buys hundreds or thousands of cans of food and uses them to build a colossal structure. The food is then donated; this event benefited The Food Depot. “It was my idea to start this,” Ashley said. “It helps The Food Depot and it helps the community to know about AIA-Santa Fe. I was part of the team for the Zozobra piece, which won.” Barbara Felix Architecture + Design will have a team in the 2016 event, scheduled for June. Last year the theme was “Welcome to New Mexico.” This year it’s “TV and Movies.”
Ashley, an associate member of AIA, is adamant that architecture is not just about skyscrapers. “It’s a tool to ennoble our communities and make our environments better places,” she said in our talk at Iconik Coffee Roasters. “This place wouldn’t be as cool without that awesome curved wall and the exposed metal roof. And in something like a hospital, an architect can make the building more comfortable.”
Right now, she’s not thinking so much about hospitals or skyscrapers. She said David Rasch, the city’s historic preservation officer, is considering forming a committee to rejeuvenate Santa Fe’s historic code. “I’d love to be a part of that,” Ashley said. “Also, growing up in Orlando, I am attracted to the tourism side of architecture, which relates to bringing people to architecture. I would love to do a casino, because you have so much range to do whatever you want.” — Paul Weideman