Urban designers Stephanos Polyzoides and John Massengale write that Canyon Road in Santa Fe NM is thought of as “one of the most beautiful places in America.” They note it developed as a beautiful place not because of any centrally imposed design, but because of what they call an “organic” approach in which buildings were built by private citizens with multiple use, and adaptability in mind.
There was a voluntary pragmatic attachment to contemporary forms of indigenous (Pueblo Indian) and ethnic (spanish colonial) building design.
“Until the advent of statehood (1912) there was no regulation of (land) use or (building) form in this part of Santa Fe. Frontages were therefore initially designed to accommodate residential, local commercial, local craft, agricultural and other uses.
“Over time, and as building uses changed, owners felt free to modify the frontages of houses based on their evolving functional needs.
“The visual complexity, the picturesque composition, and the sheer beauty of Canyon Road must be understood as an essay on successional urbanism. Its streetscape is based on the contributions of hundreds of people that had a small hand in making it….
“The charm of Canyon Road’s insistent irregularity reflects not only that the design of its right of way evolved over time, based on the ever-changing needs of its residents…”
“Street Design: the Secret to Great Cities and Towns,” Victor Dover & John Massengale, Wiley, 214, p149.
- editor 2014-07-11
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