Steel that soars
For more than a century, builders have faced severe design restrictions in downtown Santa Fe. But not too far away, in the revitalized Railyard district, some very interesting buildings have appeared. The most recent project, now under construction, is a group of very modern homes boasting dramatically curved roofs that recall World War II-era Quonset huts. Called the Greathouse Railyard Lofts by owner and designer Stephanie Sandston, they occupy one of the last available parcels in the lively Baca District. On the cover is a swooping section of a Greathouse Lofts rooftop; photo Luis Sánchez Saturno/The New Mexican.
A new color is on the rise in the Baca District of the Santa Fe Railyard. It’s not the stucco brown of the downtown historic district. It’s not the baby blue of the old Captain Marble building. It’s not the reds of the Raven and La Puerta buildings, nor is it the brown and black of the Trailhead Building, which was recently adapted by the husband-wife team of Andres Paglayan and Solange Serquis from the historic Monte Vista Fuel & Feed warehouse.
It is metallic silver. With a spate of new construction during the past eight years or so, the Baca District has become a gallery of galvanized-steel buildings in shapes that can verge on the experimental.
Exceptional examples include the Molecule design showroom, fashioned by Adriana Siso from 11 I international shipping containers. There is also Jonah Stanford’s Needbased Inc. office and the Ricardo Mazal studio next door. The newest gleaming entry is the Greathouse Railyard Lofts, under construction at 930 Shoofly Street by Stephanie Sandston.
Sandston’s project will include two 1,100-squarefoot loft units, a casita guest studio, and her own 1,800-square-foot home, which will resemble the Quonset hut aesthetic of her other buildings, but with a courtyard. Prices for the lofts aren’t yet set.
“I hope it will all be finished this fall,” said Sandston, who isn’t an architect but has extensive experience in the design world. “Then my friend, Michael Golino, is building right next door and that’s going to be beautiful, too.”
The rounded steel Greathouse roofs are anchored by poured-concrete stem walls. They’re reminiscent of a type of corrugated-metal building that became popular during World War II for its simplicity and quick erection time. “My mom is from a big ranching family in Utah, and there were Quonset huts on the ranch and I always loved them,” Sandston said. “I have been playing with ways to deconstruct a Quonset. What I did here, you get the curved steel but you get all the control of a modern building with the flat sides.”
As opposed to the traditional prefab buildings, in which the curved metal runs right down to the ground, her innovative “partial Quonset” incorporates flat-wall elements. In another departure from the historic steel huts, she designed her loft units with large glass doors and windows to provide plenty of cloud views and energy-efficient daylighting.
The warehouse aesthetic of the Santa Fe Railyard appeals to Sandston. “I love it. It’s the opportunity
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