Santafearchitect's Blog

An Architect in Santa Fe

Posted in Architecture by santafearchitect on January 29, 2010

Twenty-odd years ago I went into a film about Georgia O’Keefe’s life and came out a different person.  I like her work, but the film wasn’t what changed my life.  What reached in and took hold of me was the shot of the spare figure of the painter standing on the edge of a mesa and gazing out on the New Mexico landscape.  The same week I saw a documentary on Chaco Canyon, and I was caught permanently.  I came to Santa Fe in 1989 and have been here ever since.

To work in Santa Fe as an architect means embracing an iconic style.  Even contemporary work here has its roots in traditional elements, from building as sculpture to reveling in the celebration of structure.  At Taos Pueblo, which is a thousand years old and still inhabited, one sun-drenched mud block is built on top of another, the deep blue of the sky mirrored in the frames of windows and doors.  The Palace of the Governors has anchored the plaza here in Santa Fe since 1610, its thick adobe walls, deep portal, wood posts and vigas a pure expression of materials at hand – mud and a bit of wood.  Punctuating windows, courtyards, the play of inside and out, and color – all of these elements of contemporary architecture – are also present in the traditions of Santa Fe building.

Even today, when any material is available, I still believe in designing in context with the nature of Santa Fe.  The past is always present.  Yet there is more to building in Santa Fe than lip service to that past.  The work goes deeper.  What drew me here to work is the sense of place, time and spirit, unique to this small City Different.   Time and again, this is what brings clients to me, to create not just space, but home.

Deborah Auten


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