Designers Chosen for Santa Fe Railyard Park

Santa Fe, N.M., 5/20/02-The landscape and urban design team headed by Ken Smith, Frederic Schwartz, and Mary Miss has been named as the winner in the Trust for Public Land’s Santa Fe “Railyard Park and Plaza” design competition.

Encompassing a total of 13 acres-10 acres between Cerrillos Road, Guadalupe Street and Paseo de Peralta, and three acres north of Paseo de Peralta-the Railyard Park and Plaza are part of the city of Santa Fe’s greater plans for development of the 50-acre, city-owned Railyard. It is the largest piece of undeveloped land in downtown Santa Fe.

The 11-member team, which was designated in the competition as “Team C,” was chosen from among four final teams based on their conceptual plans for development of a new park and plaza with connecting walkways in the city’s downtown core. The team, which includes three Santa Fe professionals, is as follows:

Ken Smith, Landscape Architect, New York, NY
Frederic Schwartz Architects, New York, NY
Mary Miss, public artist, New York, NY
Edith Katz, landscape architect, Santa Fe, NM
Mary Steuver, ecologist, Placitas, NM
Bohannan Houston, engineering, Santa Fe, NM
Emily Shillingburg, anthropologist, Washington, D.C.
Arup, engineers, New York/Los Angeles/Houston
Pentagram, graphic design, Austin/San Francisco/New York
Allee King Rosen & Fleming, environmental planning, New York, NY
Sam Schwartz Co., transportation planning, New York, NY

An eight-member jury comprised of four internationally recognized landscape and urban design experts and four local community representatives (see attached list) listened to public presentations of each of the four design concepts by members of the four finalist teams during a day of public presentations on Saturday at El Museo Cultural. The jury then spent much of the day Sunday considering the strengths and weaknesses of each of the designs before deciding on the winner late Sunday afternoon.

The jury’s evaluations were based on a set of four “guiding ideas” set forth by the Trust for Public Land at the outset of the competition. Those ideas are as follows:

  • Uses and activities: A mix of things to do and things to see for people of all ages.
  • Access: Strong connections to neighborhoods, the adjacent arts and culture district, and local businesses
  • Comfort and image: A clean, safe, attractive place.
  • Sociability: A place to meet other people.

While each of the final four teams met a variety of the criteria in interesting and creative ways, the jury cited the Smith, Schwartz and Miss team’s $5.3 million design for presenting the most highly developed park landscaping scheme, which incorporates a wise use of water harvesting solutions and drought resistant plants. The team’s emphasis on the social and educational opportunities for the community within the context of the park’s natural resources, as well as the functional, energy-efficient layout and design of the walkways and plaza area, were also praised. For instance, the design’s incorporation of shade structures for the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market and its flexible plaza layout were considered highly beneficial to the Farmers’ Market and other community groups who will use the area for civic functions. Finally, the jury emphasized the plan’s adherence to the boundaries set forth by the Master Plan recently adopted by the Santa Fe City Council and the strong support for the design by community members who submitted written feedback on all of the design concepts.

The jury also viewed the plan’s potential for flexibility as an opportunity for suggesting a number of revisions to the design concept. The recommended revisions were based on what the jury viewed as potential weaknesses in the design from both a functional and a community standpoint. The revisions will be discussed with the team as it undertakes its negotiations with the Trust for Public Land.

The winning team now receives the opportunity to negotiate a contract with the Trust for Public Land to prepare detailed planning documents that will guide the phased development of the park and plaza, which is expected to extend over the next two years. This effort will be carefully integrated with other development activities taking place on the railyard. The team’s final design concept will ultimately be considered for approval by the Santa Fe City Council.

The jury’s decision brings to an end a four-month design competition overseen by the Santa Fe office of the Trust for Public Land that drew 56 entries from around the world.

“We’ve reached another important milestone for the railyard,” said Brian Drypolcher, program manager for the Trust for Public Land in Santa Fe. “The winning scheme from Ken Smith, Mary Miss, and Frederic Schwartz will combine elements of the history of the place with contemporary design ideas and technologies. I really think the new park and plaza will become attractive places for informal uses, for the Farmers Market, and for other community events. This is what we’re planning for and what we’re hoping for.”

Since helping the city acquire the railyard property in 1995, the Santa Fe office of the Trust for Public Land, a national nonprofit conservation organization, has worked with the city and community groups to develop a plan for the public space component of the railyard. Specifically, the Trust for Public Land agreed to sponsor the design competition, which ultimately will result in construction of the 10-acre park, a community plaza, and a network of walkways and bicycle trails.

The Trust for Public Land was founded in 1972 with the purpose of protecting open spaces and parks that serve the needs of people in urban and rural areas. It has since added more than 2,000 properties to the nation’s commonwealth of open space. In New Mexico recently, the organization combined forces with the Bureau of Land Management and the Taos Land Trust to protect the spectacular views of the Rio Grande Gorge south of Taos. It is also currently working in the northern village of Chimay? to protect 28 acres of farmland behind the historic Santuario de Chimay?.

For the second year in a row, The Wall Street Journal’s Smart Money magazine has named the Trust for Public Land the most efficient conservation charity in the United States, having dedicated 92% of its funds to programs in 2001.

For more information about the Railyard Park and Plaza design competition, call Brian Drypolcher at 505-988-5922, ext. 19.