Monday, November 21, 2011

Santa Fe Railyards

We've been back a month now, and I am still living portions of the trip to New Mexico in my mind. We spent alot of time at the Railyards while there. It's where there's some great art, the farmer's market and some beautiful design. Recently - as in 3-5 years ago, the area was rehabbed to accommodate a park, playing fields and the Farmer's market area - among other uses. Walking in an area that has new life without remnants of it's old one stripped away or paved over deeply inspired me. I found it refreshing that the design choices respected the old in ways that are culturally relevant and engaging today without being saccharine, facile and overtly commercial. Keeping the connection to the railroad - with the commuter rail service that runs to Albuquerque, the old Santa Fe Railroad, (even the logo design is iconic) and the layout of the old tracks establishes the sense of place - and establishes a strong rhythm for the site, wherever you move through the site - there is always the datum of the straight line to refer to. These lines run through spaces with mostly hardscape and those without - the poetry of these lines is that they always make sense given their location and retain their integrity as path, incised design element or material. Being such a long site, the lines also helped to choreograph movement though narrow spaces and helped to delineate the different programs going on. 

I could go on about the cool, landscape geeky details that abounded. The best summation though is expressed by the joy of the children I saw there - who delighted in the market, waving at the trains, and in the creative spaces for sliding, running and being their age. What a great accomplishment for the city and what a gift for the people that live there.

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