How did the Railyard district get its distinctive look? Rather than jumping on the Spanish-Pueblo Revival bandwagon, the Railyard harks back to the warehouses of the railroading days.

Built as a warehouse for the lumber company owned by Charles W. Dudrow, the false-front building with ornamental brickwork and a stepped parapet topped by two squat towers on a modillion cornice was disguised over the years with stucco and paint. But its original architectural countenance has been restored for its new status as part of the New Mexico School for the Arts (NMSA) high school and art institute.

On a recent day in mid-September, dozens of workers were busy inside and outside the historic Castañeda Hotel as owners Allan Affeldt and Tina Mion prepared to open seven rooms. It will be the first time in 70 years that guests have stayed in the establishment at 524 Railroad Avenue in Las Vegas.

In this land, once upon a time, there was only adobe. About a thousand years ago, Native peoples made use of the tensile strength of logs and branches for part of their roof structures, but on this arid plateau, trees were in short supply. Homes were made of adobe, or earth. And although the Spanish brought a few new technologies in the 16th century, their villages along the Río Grande and the Río Santa Fe were still far from mountains and trees. 

“Many architects in this book believe that a financial and moral sensitivity to scale in our homes must become a new norm,” Bernard Friedman writes in The American Idea of Home: Conversations About Architecture and Design. He adds that good design “is more important than ever.” 

To come upon flowing water in Northern New Mexico seems such a blessing. One recent afternoon, photographer and writer Don Usner and I paused on a small footbridge over the Acequia de los Ortegas in Chimayó, appreciating the mini-spectacle. He pointed to a place just beyond, indicating where they used to divert water to irrigate inside the Plaza del Cerro. 

On a recent afternoon in Tomas Lipps’ front yard, the master stonemason was busy with stones, all his attention focused on balancing the top two in a stack of five stones of various sizes, shapes, and varieties. “Done!” he exclaimed, stepping backward and wishing away any windy gusts that might be in the vicinity. “There’s a subculture of stone-balancing,” he said.

Last September, Fischer told an Albuquerque audience that the supply of truly affordable housing is dwindling and lamented that building costs often dwarf income levels. He was a speaker at TEDxABQ, a local event affiliated with the New York-based TED (technology, entertainment, design) conference program.

The Francisca Hinojos House at the corner of East Palace Avenue and Martinez Street was built in about 1885 by French artisans whom Archbishop Lamy brought from Louisiana for his St. Francis Cathedral project. One of the city’s pre-Santa Fe Style gems, the house was severely damaged by fire in February 2013. Late last winter, the city’s Historic Preservation Division staff gave contractor John Wolf, who had purchased the house, administrative approval to rebuild its damaged portions “in-kind.”

Antoine Predock took to drawing and painting like an architect to form-molding. Better known as the designer of spectacular buildings, Predock has a predilection for taking pen to paper that is exuberantly displayed in Drawing Into Architecture: The Sketches of Antoine Predock, just out from University of New Mexico Press — and in the related exhibition n display through Oct. 2 at the Albuquerque Museum.

Three months after Typhoon Haiyan destroyed people’s homes in the Philippines in November 2013, a team from Michael Reynolds’ Taos-based Earthship Biotecture program was there. His team erected a “windship” building out of donated materials, including tires, bottles, cardboard, coconut lumber, and bamboo.

On March 1, astronaut Scott Kelly came home after an American-record 340 days at the International Space Station. That was in the news, but there’s so much amazing research going on in space all the time that most of us never hear about. The scientific experiments are just one part of what David Nixon covers in the eminently readable and fabulously illustrated International Space Station: Architecture Beyond Earth, just out from Circa Press in London.

The first thing I saw at the home of Michael Jantzen was a chair on the front porch. He warned me not to sit in it, as it is a “deconstructed” chair. It’s one of the pieces from his portfolio that is more art than architecture, but both domains are important to the artist and designer.

El Zaguán, 545 Canyon Road, is owned by the 54-year-old Historic Santa Fe Foundation. The HSFF board of directors wanted to use natural, traditional finishes in restoring the building, but they can be problematic, as water soaks up from the base and degrades the finish.

Passersby and neighbors of the house at 524 Alto St. have seen the progress of some remarkable work during the past six months. What looks like a little house from the street (only about 18 feet wide), the García House is 75 feet deep, and all along those walls, workers have painstakingly cut away small sections of concrete stucco.

In a way, La Posada de Santa Fe — one of the city’s most luxurious hotels — has pulled off a rather bizarre camouflage act. A rear corner of the 1882 house is visible from La Posada’s patio restaurant, but from the front, you have to step back on Palace Avenue to see the old Staab House popping up from the 20th-century building additions.

One of Santa Fe’s “invisible” historic homes is profiled in The Roque Lobato House, Santa Fe, New Mexico, a new book by architectural historian Chris Wilson and Oliver Horn, son of the house’s owners, Susan and Karl L. Horn. The book’s first chapter examines the people who have owned this house and their links to significant events in the history of Santa Fe and New Mexico.

Eighty years ago, John Gaw Meem tied the knot on a singular architectural achievement. With La Quinta at Los Poblanos Ranch in Albuquerque and the Federal Emergency Recovery Act Building (now called the Villagra Building) in Santa Fe, his elaboration of a new style, the Territorial Revival, was fully realized. 

At the annual Santa Fe Fiesta Lecture, archaeologist Cordelia “Dedie” Thomas Snow discusses a topic that’s dear to her: the Palace of the Governors. But because the old structure is also dear to everyone else in Santa Fe, she’s a little worried that some of her revelations will jostle some cherished notions. “I may get run out of town,” she told Pasatiempo.

The Albuquerque hotel — named for Hernando de Alvarado, a Spanish artillery captain on the 1540-1542 Coronado expedition — opened in May 1902. It was designed by Charles Frederick Whittlesey, the AT&SF’s chief architect. 

Las Vegas’ La Castañeda Hotel, 115 years old and closed since 1948, must have been well made. The building’s appraisal by Linda Gegick, who has been working on architectural, engineering, and historic surveys for new owner Allan Affeldt, makes the restoration challenge sound modest. “I’d say that it suffers from a lack of regular maintenance,” she summed up.

A 1937 abstract painting is among a trove of more than 150 works on paper by William Lumpkins that were recently released by his estate and are available at Matthews Gallery. None of the watercolors, serigraphs, and felt-tip-pen drawings by the late architect and artist have been seen before by the public.

Matt Lambros’ richly detailed photographs of abandoned theaters are portraits of gaudy decrepitude, a lamentable parade of forgotten architectural glories. The Brooklyn photographer backs up his images with research illuminating the stories behind the buildings and, once in a while, hope that restoration is on the horizon. Ten prints from Lambros’ After the Final Curtain series are on exhibit at the Jean Cocteau Cinema through March 17.

The real-estate market in Santa Fe now is very slow compared with that of the pre-recession mid-2000s, but new houses are being built here and there. An especially active segment is for smaller contemporary homes, according to Gabriel Browne, the principal of Praxis Architects. His 1,615-square-foot residence for James David and Gary Peese fits the description.

Much of what’s happening with architecture in Santa Fe — including the proliferation of pseudoadobes — is determined with tourism in mind. “The tourists are not the problem,” says author Daniel Bluestone. “It is the people that set out to coddle and swaddle tourists at every turn, not realizing that they really want some connection to authenticity."

The range of traditional American Indian housing types includes multistory adobe dwellings, hogans, tepees, wickiups, the residential earthworks of the mound builders, the enormous wood houses of the Wakeshan people of Vancouver Island, and the cedar-planked, shed-roof houses of the Makah people in Neah Bay, Washington.

San Esteban del Rey stands as a record of more than 300 years of maintenance and repair, but there are signs of experimentation with both materials and construction. Archaeologist Michael Marshall, who did an analysis of the mission’s convento in 1975, wrote that church architecture in 17th-century New Mexico was indeed “highly experimental.”

Dennis Tedlock pairs photographs of lots of different buildings and other things out there with texts describing what we see, and more. It reminds us of the fact that, when viewing a photograph, we so often have unanswered questions about objects in the picture or its background or other aspects.

If you’ve had the opportunity to visit one of Ra Paulette’s art caves in the Embudo area, the word “transcendent” might occur to you when describing the experience. “I call it the cave effect,” Paulette said. “There are some perceptual and psychological things that are in play, as far as a medium goes, that are advantages in this work.”

Fans of architect John McHugh have two reasons for excitement: an exhibition of his paintings at Matthews Gallery and the publication of John McHugh Travel Sketches: A Record of His Travels and Observations and a Guide to Sketching in the Field.

What is that orange building with the interesting yellow awnings over on Railfan Road in the Baca Street area of the Santa Fe Railyard? Since the spring of 2012, there have usually been one or two examples of outdoor sculpture in front of the building, visible to drivers on Cerrillos Road.

"Hardly anyone knows about her, " Catherine Colby said of Kate Chapman (1887-1944), the subject of her new book. Chapman was one of those independent women who broke away from their stilted traditional surroundings elsewhere in the country to forge a home and career in Santa Fe in the early 20th century.

The new book Sun Sticks and Mud: 1,000 Years of Earth Building in the Desert Southwest, published by La Sombra Books, looks at building not only with adobe bricks, but with puddled adobe, cob (mud with straw), earth-bag, rammed-earth, jacal (mudded pole), and construction with terrones.

Many interesting lines of inquiry can arise when you're walking around and looking closely at historic buildings. One that came up during a recent visit to the main building at the School for Advanced Research had to do with vertical bars of steel reinforcing rod (rebar) in the high windows.