Welcome to the Arts + Creativity Center blog, where we’ll be giving regular updates on the design and community engagement process for this project. To give some background, the Santa Fe Arts and Creativity Center (A+CC) will be a 70 unit live/work affordable housing complex and suite of community resources to be built on a 5 acre parcel of city-donated land on Siler Road. The project aims to address the need for affordable rental housing in the city as well as the lack of affordable studio space for artists and craftspeople alike. The project is being led by two non-profit organizations, Creative Santa Fe (CrSF) and New Mexico Inter-Faith Housing (NMIF).

NMIF and CrSF are working with the newly selected design team (you can view the full team bio here) as well as diverse creatives from the community to host a series of design workshops, charrettes, and public events where local artists and community stakeholders from a variety of backgrounds share their ideas with the project’s team of architects, landscape designers, and engineers.

Our selection of the design team began with a non-conventional request for qualifications (RFQ) that required collaboration among at least two architecture firms. Because of the community investment in the project, we chose to have a diverse review committee make the final selection of the team. This review committee included Michaele Pride, Associate Dean of Public Outreach and Engagement at the UNM School of Architecture and Planning, Courtney Leonard, an artist and filmmaker, Edie Tsong, a social practice artist, Debra Garcia y Griego, Director of the Santa Fe Arts Commission, and Joseph Kunkel, Rose Fellow Architect and Director of the Sustainable Native Communities Collaborative. It also included one representative from both nonprofits leading the project; Bill Miller, who is the President of the Board for CrSF, and Daniel Werwath representing NMIF.

The RFQ yielded proposals from eight highly qualified teams, each of which would have proved an exceptional asset to an affordable housing project such as this. After an initial ranking of the proposals by the selection committee and project team, three design teams were selected for interviews. The final selection was made after a review of in-person presentations by the three finalist teams.

Ultimately, the committee selected a team that is a collaboration of seven different firms, five of whom are based locally in Santa Fe, with each firm bringing a particular expertise to the project. AOS Architects specializes in affordable housing, institutional projects and public interest design, with extensive experience working in New Mexico, particularly with Native American Pueblos. They are joined by Trey Jordan Architecture, a renowned national leader in contemporary design, da Silva Architecture, a local firm specializing in Passive House design, and Onion Flats, a Philadelphia based design-build firm that has extensive experience with Passive House multi-family projects. These four design firms are joined by Surroundings, a leading local landscape architecture firm, PBI Construction Consulting, a local construction management firm, and Wilson and Company Engineers.

By including community input at the outset of the design process, our team hopes to ensure that the A+CC project will be responsive to the needs of the diverse constituency it intends to serve, while also being an asset to the surrounding businesses and larger Siler neighborhood.

Although no single affordable housing project will eliminate the affordable housing crisis in the city, we believe that the A+CC is positioned to be a key part of the solution, creating a model for future developments while it keeps dozens of low-income makers and innovators living and creating in Santa Fe for years to come.

We’ll post more updates soon as the process continues!