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Santa Fe Art Institute

By Edith Cherry and James See – September 29, 2021

Previous Name:  College of Santa Fe Visual Arts Center (until c. 1999)

Image #1 SFAI EC018 west entry

Access:  505-424-5050, 1600 St. Michaels Drive #31, Santa Fe, NM  87505

Modernism arrived in Mexico in the 1920s, but took a distinctive path called Mexican Minimalism, emphasizing simple geometries, absence of surface decoration, integration of indoor and outdoor spaces, and the use of very bold colors. The original architectural proponents for the movement were Juan O’Gorman and Luis Barragán, but they were followed closely by Ricardo Legorreta and later, his son, Victor, the designers of the Santa Fe Art Institute (SFAI). 

Image #2 Site Plan

The Santa Fe Art Institute is laid out on a rectangular grid with the major entry on the east and a second, but important, entry on the west. A sharp point at the west side directs the visitor toward that entry. Outdoor corridors connect these entries and all of the major spaces in this complex of classrooms, studios, administration, faculty dormitories, and lecture halls. Occasionally, an important space is positioned 45 degrees to the grid to give it emphasis. The dark red color of the exterior ties the complex together, but bright accent colors appear in special areas.

The design pays unique attention to openings. Windows in special areas are banded with wide, stuccoed frames and recess into or protrude out of the wall surface. Walls with multiple vertical slits march along outdoor corridors, casting interesting shadows.

Image #8 _DSC2650 corner window-1 copyImage #9_DSC8333 Corridor copy

Completed:  1991
Design Architect:  Legorreta + Legorreta Arqitectos
Executive Architect:  Lloyd and Tryk Architects
Landscape Architect:  Design Workshop
Contractor:  Bradbury Stamm Construction

Learn More:

Ricardo Legorreta:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ricardo_Legorreta

Lagorreta Architectos:  https://www.legorreta.mx

Asencio, Paco, Editor, 2002, Legorreta + Legorreta, LOFT Publications, Barcelona, Spain, pages 34-41.







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