New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs Secretary Debra Garcia y Griego said the agency will ask for a state historic preservation review before the proposed Vladem Contemporary art museum can go forward.
The Vladem Building, controversial to some because of its design and size, will be located at the corner of Montezuma Avenue and Guadalupe Street. It is adjacent to the Santa Fe Railyard and is in the city’s historic district — specifically, the Historic Transition District.
Griego y Garcia said the State Historic Preservation Office will have 30 business days to review and respond to the Vladem proposal.
“In the meantime we are continuing to plan exhibition and education programming for that museum,” she said. “We continue to look at things like the furniture, fixture and equipment budget and the IT budget in preparation for moving forward with the project, once we have completed the process with the state and city and made appropriate and reasonable adjustments in response to that.”
Asked what kind of adjustments the agency is prepared to make, Griego y Garcia replied, “I want to wait for the process to be completed before discussing that.”
The museum will grow the dimensions of the Halpin Building — the former home of the State Records Center & Archives — by about 15,000 square feet, to about 35,000 square feet.
A bill passed by the Legislature two years ago requires state construction projects like the Vladem Contemporary be done in cooperation with city historic district rules. But Griego y Garcia said the project is exempt from the new statute because it was underway prior to the bill’s passage.
“We don’t believe that we are subject to city jurisdiction under that bill,” she said.
Garcia y Griego said the agency will take into account testimony — some of it critical — the city of Santa Fe received during a May 9 hearing regarding the building’s design and construction.
Garcia y Griego said the Department of Cultural Affairs decided to include city testimony because “I believe that it is important to work with local governments on building projects,” she said. “We felt that it was important to put it before the city H-board and provide the community of Santa Fe the opportunity to provide input.
“We are committed to respond to changes that are reasonable to make at this point in the design process,” Garcia y Griego added.
Testimony received at the May 9 meeting on the Vladem building ranged from high praise to cutting criticism. Former Cultural Affairs Secretary Stuart Ashman told the Historic Districts Review Board, which reviews all proposals for new buildings and proposed changes to existing structures, that the design “adheres to best practice in the most thoughtful way” and said the Vladem will be an “anchor and an important enhancement to this arts corridor.”
But Pen La Farge, board president of the Old Santa Fe Association, testified the proposed museum is “at odds with the streetscape and the look of every building that surrounds it.”
The building’s designer, DNCA Architects, Albuquerque, has produced renderings that show a sleek metal-and-glass structure, with the large windows on the second-floor addition covered with perforated-metal scrim panels in what the architects describe as “tan/champagne” color.
Following the May 9Historic Districts Review Board meeting, the Department of Cultural Affairs announced a 60-day public comment period. One question included in a survey was: “Do you consider museum architecture essential to the program and art or cultural material displayed in a museum?” Of the 47 people who responded during the comment period, 39 answered yes.