A Santa Fe Thank You

- October 24, 2012

“Legorreta + Legorreta, sort of…”

I have said before that I don’t do “reviews”, leaving that task to headier types as I always bring such a large dose of emotion to the task. Thank You – that’s another story. Our community owes a tremendous THANK YOU to several institutions and individuals for last weekend’s wonderful series of events celebrating the artistic legacy created by Ricardo Legorreta here in Santa Fe. Clearly stated, those to be thanked are Santa Fe University of Art and Design, Thornburg Investment Management, Zocalo Condominiums and the Santa Fe Art Institute and its tireless leader, Diane Karp. I say this knowing full well that “it takes a village” (in this case a Legorreta-designed village), but these are the names that come first to mind.

I went to all of the events possible during Friday and Saturday and, at the outset thought this might be more like a eulogy than a celebration of this great architect and his work. Not so. Through the presence of Ricardo’s son Victor, it became clear that we were fortunate to see the evolution of an architectural practice from a singular vision to that of a shared vision linking the past, present and future. The generosity of spirit exhibited by Victor Legorreta in discussing his father’s work, both seminal and most recent (Ricardo died less than a year ago) was palpable.

What was also evident was the shear creative nature of this full partner in the firm of Legorreta + Legorreta, as it was known in its later years. His vision has given me hope that the Mexican Modernist vision of one great artist has been passed on from one generation to the next and sustains in me the hope that this will continue to be a “school” of design far into the future. For me, that has always been a concern regarding “starchitects.” Will there be a Gehry school, or a Liebskind school? Or will we look back at the magnificent buildings designed by these and other late 20th-, early 21st-century masters as “moments in time?”

Each of the events last weekend gave me more insight into the Santa Fe Legorreta legacy, but none more so than the tours of the various projects. I was intimately aware of the buildings on the University of Art and Design campus, consisting of the University’s complex (Tipton Hall, The Thaw Art History Center, the Art School and the Marion Center for Photography) and the Santa Fe Art Institute. I was less familiar with both the Zocalo Condominiums and the Thornburg Campus and did not even know there was a Legorreta-designed private residence in our midst. Seeing the Zocalo Condominiums up close, with their superb use of difficult building terrain along 285, south of the 599 junction, and the incredible design and attention to detail brought to the project by both Ricardo and Victor Legorreta, gave me even more hope for the legacy relationship of this design style here in Santa Fe. His son's clear understanding and love of our community was evident, throughout.

My thanks go to Garrett Thornburg for opening his campus for a guided tour. I knew a lot about this project, but the joy was in seeing the realization of the dream. To this day, I cannot understand the opposition of the folks up on Tano Road to this architectural and environmental gem, with its Gold LEED Certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).  From the rooftop garden at one of the highest points on the building, one cannot even see Tano Road or the residences there. And, I presume that those residents can’t see the Thornburg Campus either. Thanks, with a nod to privacy, goes also to the owner of the private residence for opening her home to a self-guided tour, including her wonderful art collection.

The weekend, which for Miss Thea and me, included not only the Legorreta events, but also a visit to The Lodge for Antonio Granjero’s closing flamenco show and the Galisteo Studio Tour, was another reminder of the phrase my wife and I often share, as we look at each other and proclaim: “we live here!”