Urban to Rural Transect, Taos, Geoff Dyer. About 2005. Courtesy of Town of Taos and Placemakers.


New Plaza Design

__Starting in 1992, developers, designers and community leaders began first to propose, and then to restore, old plazas and to build new ones across New Mexico. The emerging New Urbanist program of the 1990s inspired and refocused designers toward a greater appreciation of regional identity, traditional urban patterns, and the making of meaningful public spaces.

__Honoring historic New Mexican planning traditions, Aldea de Santa Fe and Mesa del Sol—two new master planned communities on the edge of Santa Fe and Albuquerque respectively—structure their large town plans around active community plazas. In this state, so rich with urban traditions, this preservation and creation of plazas since 1992 has revitalized New Mexico’s distinctive regional identity and its long traditions of community place making.

Aldea de Santa Fe, (established 1998)

__Community Master Plan, Duany Plater-Zyberk,1998. Plaza design, Moule and Polyzoides, 2007.

__A new town designed by a leading New Urbanist firm, Duany Plater-Zyberk, Aldea includes one of the first new public plazas to be constructed in New Mexico in a century. Sited on a hilltop ridge, it commands spectacular vistas west to the Jemez Mountains and east to the Sangre de Cristos.

__Moule & Polyzoides, another leading New Urbanist firm, elaborated on the design of the plaza and surrounding buildings to create the town center. A community building dominates the plaza, while adaptable live/work, office and retail buildings employ traditional New Mexican massing, materials, and unifying portales.

Mesa del Sol, Albuquerque, (established 2005)

__Community Master Plan, Calthorpe Associates, 2005. Civic Plaza and Town Center building, Antoine Predock, 2007.

__A master planned community on over 13,000 acres of arid mesa land in southeast Albuquerque, Mesa del Sol combines housing for over 100,000 new residents along with retail, office and industrial uses (already including photovoltaic and film production facilities). Master planned by Calthorpe Associates, this large New Urbanist development utilizes a traditional district and neighborhood structure incorporating an extensive network of public open spaces.

__Significantly, this new community will employ ecologically sustainable design principles throughout its phased development. Phase One concentrates around the Town Center, with a mixed-use community building fronting onto the triangular civic plaza, both designed by world-renowned Albuquerque architect Antoine Predock.

Further Reading

(in addition to The Plazas of New Mexico)

  • Calthorpe, Peter, The Next American Metropolis, (N.Y.: Princeton Architectural Press, 1993).

  • Duany, Andres, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, and Robert Alminana, The New Civic Art, (New York: Rizzolli, 2003).

  • Duany, Andres, Jeff Speck and Mike Lydon, The Smart Growth Manual, (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2010).

  • Kelbaugh, Douglas, Repairing the American Metropolis: Common Place Revisited, (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2002).

External Links

  • Center for Urban and Community Design, University of Miami, http://arc.miami.edu/community/center-for-urban-community-design

  • Congress for New Urbanism,

  • National Partners for Smart Growth, http://www.newpartners.org

  • Partnership for Sustainable Communities, http://www.sustainablecommunities.gov/