New Work: Santa Fe Railyard Park
Last week, the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects announced their Design Awards for 2012. The list included many Pentagram collaborators, including architect Frederic Schwartz and landscape architect Ken Smith who won an Honor Award for their design for the Santa Fe Railyard Park. The park is the public core of a new mixed-use district redeveloped from the historic train yards near Santa Fe’s downtown. Pentagram collaborated with Smith and Schwartz on this project as signage and environmental graphic designers.
Originally opened in 1880, the railyard was long a central hub of Santa Fe’s community life. The redevelopment of the 50-acre site includes the Santa Fe Farmers Market; arts institutions, restaurants, shops and galleries; an active depot for excursion and commuter trains; and Railyard Park, a new public park designed by a team led by Ken Smith. The railyard reopened in 2008.
Constructed around the features of the train yards, Railyard Park contains 13 acres of open space, several “pocket” parks scattered throughout the development, bike trails, picnic areas and a children’s playground. Pentagram created a full program of graphics for the park that includes directional signage, interpretive panels, donor signage, and a landmark identification sign installed on the massive water tank that is central to park’s sophisticated natural irrigation system.
Overall, the goal was to make signs and graphics as unobtrusive as possible, while acknowledging the need to convey functional information. As a result, the designers sought to integrate signs into existing park elements like benches and curbs. Signs on buildings were carefully matched to existing materials and made as light and transparent as possible. And when new wayfinding elements were needed, they were designed to coordinate with the park’s existing visual language.
Santa Fe Railyard Park is featured in a monograph of the work of Ken Smith Landscape Architect, published by Monacelli Press in 2009, and also designed by Pentagram.
Project Team: Michael Bierut, partner-in-charge and designer; Tracey Cameron and Kai Salmela, designers. Photographs by Wyatt Gallery.