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Old 05-23-2018, 09:43 AM   #1
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Santa Fe, New Mexico, an Architecturally Unique American City

SantaFe, New Mexico, an Architecturally Unique American City:

“The City Different”, where architecture is truly art and art as a craft is practiced throughout city. - “Santa Fe ranks as the third largest art market in the country, with hundreds of local art galleries ....”

Common adobe, “mudbrick”, building construction gives Santa Fe its texture, flavor and uniqueness. -

Adobe – made from mud, silty soil, clay and/or sand, mixed with water, poured into forms to make bricks, and left in the sun to dry. Additives to strengthen the mixture include: straw, manure, and asphalt emulsion.

Vigas – large (6- to 12-plus inches in diameter) usually peeled round logs used as ceiling beams regularly spaced across the width of the room. In traditional Southwestern (Santa Fe) architecture, the exposed interior vigas, along with latillas, decking, or even plaster, form a strong design element at the ceiling, and are often exposed outside, too, protruding through the exterior walls.

The New Mexico state bird is the roadrunner (“prefers running to flying and has been clocked at speeds of 15 miles per hour”).

“The Zia flag is a modern interpretation of an ancient sun design on a late 19th century water jar from Zia Pueblo. Red and gold represent the colors of old Spain.” - statehouse pamphlet. At an elevation of 7199 feet, sunlight in Santa Fe is intense.

Special mention, the interior of The Inn of the Five Graces (wonderful name) is incredibly detailed and beautiful (I was not a guest). - “Each unique room showcases handcrafted artisan pieces and one-of-a-kind treasures from the historic Silk Road that once linked Europe and Asia.” Number 1 traveler ranked hotel in Santa Fe on TripAdvisor, checkout the website’s photos, you will be impressed.

“The San Miguel Chapel is the oldest church in the United States.” - church handout

“Oral history holds that the San Miguel Chapel was built around 1600.”

“The original church was built on the site of an ancient kiva of the Analco Indians.”

“New Mexico’s State Capitol forms the Zia sun symbol and was dedicated in 1966. It’s architecture is an adaptation of Greek revival and Pueblo adobe architecture.” - pamphlet. It is a round building and trees and shrubs surround the building thereby preventing a picture of the building in its entirety unless taken as an aerial. One of the more beautiful state capitols.

Santa Fe Plaza, end of the old Santa Fe Trail

The Palace of the Governors, built in 1609, where Native Americans sell their merchandise.

Cathedral Basilica of St Francis

La Fonda on the Plaza Hotel (“the inn”)
“The structure that guests enjoy today was built in 1922 and features the influence of architects Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter and*John Gaw Meem.” -

From Wikipedia, “Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter [April 4, 1869 – January 8, 1958] was an American architect and designer. She was one of the very few female American architects in her day. She was the designer of many landmark buildings and spaces for the Fred Harvey Company and the Santa Fe Railroad, notably in Grand Canyon National Park. Her work had enormous influence as she helped to create a style, blending Spanish Colonial Revival and Mission Revival architecture with Native American motifs and Rustic elements, that became popular throughout the Southwest.”

Bataan Memorial Building, according to a plaque, is dedicated to the 1800 men of the New Mexico National Guard who were ordered to walk the Bataan Death March during World War II. It houses state government offices.

Newer buildings respect the historic context of the city

SITE Santa Fe is a contemporary art space and expanded warehouse designed by SHoP Architects -

Back to Albuquerque
, July 10, 2019
The 15 Best Cities in the United States

2. Santa Fe, New Mexico

A seven-spot of Albuquerque photos.

Central Avenue is old Route 66, an interest of mine.

Pick up the Rail Runner train to Santa Fe here. There is an 1887 foot rise in elevation over the course of 58 miles.

CityLab University: The Who’s Who of Urbanism

It was nice learning about and knowing the “15 people who changed how we plan, design, think about, and live in cities”.

Last edited by EdMc; 07-13-2019 at 02:26 AM. Reason: Appended article about influential thinkers of urbanism.
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Old 05-23-2018, 12:46 PM   #2
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Re: Santa Fe, New Mexico, an Architecturally Unique American City

Great pictures but it really seems this is the Disney version of Santa Fe.
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Old 05-23-2018, 09:21 PM   #3
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Re: Santa Fe, New Mexico, an Architecturally Unique American City

Downtown Santa Fe is not an amusement park, people live, work and play here. You can head to the countryside to see older adobe buildings built between 1000 and 1450 in Taos Pueblo, a UNESCO Heritage Site and National Historic Landmark. They don’t look much different than what you see in Santa Fe. But, as I noted with a picture, the La Fonda on the Plaza Hotel was built in 1922, nearly 100 years ago. That’s historical. With all of the Pueblo adobe architecture in downtown, no other American city looks like Santa Fe on this scale. It is unique. Ask any artist who resides here. Santa Fe refers to itself as “The City Different” because it is.
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Old 05-27-2018, 07:26 PM   #4
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Re: Santa Fe, New Mexico, an Architecturally Unique American City

Yeah, I think it's the rounded corners and non-straight lines of the Adobe that makes it look disney-esque. But it's quite "real". I really want to go someday.

How is the public transportation? Can you get around without a car? One thing I've hated about the western cities is how car-centric they are.

Last edited by Jouhou; 05-29-2018 at 10:38 AM.
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Old 05-27-2018, 08:10 PM   #5
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Re: Santa Fe, New Mexico, an Architecturally Unique American City

Ed, thank you so much for this photo essay. Photo essays like this are what used to make archBoston so vibrant and unique. As someone who was not too familiar with Santa Fe, I felt I was able to experience & begin to understand it through your photos. It's wonderful to see the vernacular architecture from so many perspectives, including its integration in the urban context. It looks like a vibrant city that operates on its own terms.

I also am interested in hearing about the walkability, bikeability and any transit options the city offers.
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Old 05-28-2018, 01:00 PM   #6
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Re: Santa Fe, New Mexico, an Architecturally Unique American City

In spite of mountains close by, Santa Fe is, except for some gentle slopes, essentially flat downtown and it is an easy and pleasant walkabout as the whole of downtown has a neighborhood feel since hardscape commercialism is outside the downtown boundary. The walk from the railyard district to the Santa Fe Plaza in the heart of downtown is only about seven blocks.

The 2018 pamphlet, “Santa Fe Bikeways & Trails”, shows three major, paved bike trails leading west and south from downtown. All three are around four miles in length. The pavement of the Rail Trail, which I viewed from a train window (looks nice), extends to I-25 after which it becomes a soft surface trail for several more miles. The pamphlet states that, in 2013, the League of American Bicyclists recognized Santa Fe as a Silver-Level “Bicycle-Friendly Community” and lists nine bicycle shops. It also mentions that “the bikeways are complemented by world-class mountain and road biking in the immediate environs.” Don’t forget water and sun protection.

There is a free downtown circulator called the “Santa Fe Pickup” which I considered using but, after I realized how immensely walkable downtown is, I dropped the consideration. And this was a weekday! In a way, Santa Fe is like Boston in that streets are narrow, comparatively, to other Midwestern cites and traffic can build up quickly and move slowly, but, Santa Fe didn’t feel congested even as I walked back to the train station in late afternoon, that is, I was not cognizant of traffic. This was probably due to the fact that since downtown is heavily tourist oriented, there are few, if any, places to shop for groceries and everyday retail which excludes repeat visits, too. A different story outside of downtown, I’m sure.

A car was not in the plans for me due to a budget, my preference for walking and transit, and the inconvenience of unfamiliar directions and the frequent hassle of parking or not finding a parking spot. Limited on-street parking in Santa Fe looked risky to find. But, I could be wrong, there are only so many hours of daylight and I don’t want to waste any of them getting a car and looking for a place to park. After all, I may never come back here again.
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