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    Zocalo : Legorreta

    By koboldstudios
    Sep 10, '06 1:47 AM EST

    On Friday, for an Architectural Analysis class, we took a field trip up to Santa Fe, New Mexico (about an hour north of Albuquerque) to look at two projects by the famous Mexican architect, Riccardo Legorreta. We were very fortunate to have this opportunity and the hospitality was excellent. Many thanks to all those involved who made this possible! This first post is a reflection on our first site visit.


    Zocalo is a condomium complex nested in the north side of Santa Fe. It is laid out over about 47 acres and has currently around 80 units. There are currently more under construction.

    "Zocalo began with developer Don Tishman's aspiration of creating an exquisitely designed but affordably priced residential community with high-quality amenities in the striking New Mexico landscape. This vision developed from his belief that world-class architecture should not be confined to the wealthy. In seeking an architect who could develop such a community, Tishman was particularly inspired by the work of Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta, whose firm designed the Visual Arts Center for the College of Santa Fe. Legorreta accepted Tishman's challenge to create an architecturally outstanding condominium development that offered exceptional value at an accessible price point."



    All the homes at Zocalo are very nicely built. The complex lies on the side of an embankment - an arroyo (naturally carved ditch) to one side and a hill to the other. I must give credit to all those involved for choosing not to raze, flatten and pave the area to make room for the new structures - which is exactly how anything/everything is built in Albuquerque. The builders took care in maintaining the landscape, at a price however. The retaining walls were a financial hurdle and worked against the goal of maintaining reasonably priced housing.


    The color-scheme, while atypical, is pleasing and is meant to play off of the brilliant blue Santa Fe sky. Unfortunately, the day of our visit was heavily overcast and raining, so we probably didn't experience the "full" effect, but nonetheless the buildings looked great. The landscaping around the houses was beginning to take foot and the French Lavender and Russian Sage were in full bloom. There were plenty of skeletons of pinion trees, victim of recent drought. The streets were much smaller than your "typical" residential project, which did help the "small community" feel. Inside, most of the homes feel open and navigation through them is intuitive. The natural lighting in the homes was subtle and effective. The ceilings are taller than the industry standard allowing for the smaller homes to feel larger and nothing felt excessive. It was all very tasteful design.



    This is beautiful art!!

    I was very impressed by the project, but in the several hours that i spent viewing the site, i felt that it failed to meet its purpose. The two condos currently for sale on the web site are both over $300k, a price not particularly realistic if you are the "average" Santa Fean (see below). In defense, however, both of these are well below the median home value in the city. Bear in mind, this is not a criticism of the architecture or construction, rather an example of some of the recent changes in Santa Fe.

    To give you an idea of exactly what i mean, here are some statistics:

    Year 2000
    Median house value: $197,000 (City); $232,900 (County)*

    Year 2006
    Median house value: $466,000 (City); $352,000 (County)*

    Median income for Santa Fe in 2006 was $45,500.**

    * Santa Fe Realtors Assoc.
    ** Santa Fe Reporter

    In 2005, Santa Fe was ranked number 10 by for having the best market for second homes.


    • compare that to Albuquerque, only 45 miles away...

      Median household income, 2005, est.: $45,246
      Median home price, 2005: $171,000

      Did you see the Arts buiding by Legorreta in the College of Santa Fe? My wife and I lived for a few months in the Santa Fe Art Institute also by Legorreta, beautiful place and great use of light and color.

      Sep 10, 06 10:21 am  · 

      We did. I was planning on posting on that site as well, but i ran out of energy last night. I had a long day in the studio yesterday. I will hopefully have the time to do another post today on the SFAI/Arts building. I have family in Santa Fe and am up there on a relatively regular basis. One of these days i will have to swing by both sites when it is sunnier out.

      Albuquerque is an odd place. I live in the Nob Hill neighborhood here and have watched the home prices double and in some cases triple in the last five years. It seems that this kind of activity is happening all over the U.S. There are some fantastic initiitatives in Albuqueruque that provide low income lofts. The one i linked to is intended for various kinds of artists.

      Well, off to the studio...

      Sep 10, 06 12:24 pm  · 
      vado retro

      old man gloom sez that mexican architecture ain't NEW mexican architecture....

      Sep 10, 06 7:56 pm  · 

      Old man gloom is quite astute.

      Sep 10, 06 8:33 pm  · 

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