New book: The Plazas of New Mexico, edited by Stefanos Polyzoides ’69 *72 and Chris Wilson, contemporary photography by Miguel Gandert (Trinity University Press)
The editors: Polyzoides’ architecture and urban design firm, Moule and Polyzoides, is based in Pasadena, Calif. He is founder and past president of the Congress for the New Urbanism. Wilson is a leading cultural, architectural, and landscape historian and a professor of cultural landscape studies at the University of New Mexico School of Architecture and Planning in Albuquerque, N.M.
The book: This study explores the history and rich cultural heritage of New Mexico’s plazas and squares in the context of the interest in urban revitalization, Smart Growth, sustainability, and historic preservation. The contributors trace three design traditions — “the plaza with kiva and terraced residential block; the plaza with church and courtyard house; and the square with courthouse and business block.” They also examine recent plaza renovation projects and newly designed plazas, and offer ideas on how to design sustainable public spaces.
From the book: “Sprawl and the state of impermanence that it has spawned are at the heart of the sustainability crisis we face today. Reversing sprawl depends largely on restoring the design of permanent, well-formed, and socially vibrant public space as the core purpose of architecture and urbanism,” wrote Polyzoides. “If we are to learn how to design such great new public places again, then we must urgently learn from the inspiring design precedents that are to be found everywhere around us. New Mexico … is home to more traditional, beautiful, and beloved plazas than any other U.S. state.”
Review: The Plazas of New Mexico, wrote Ken Hughes in New Urban News, “unearths why plazas work so well you feel at home from the first time you arrive, and why you have such a keen sense of longing when you leave. … Beyond the brilliant insights by co-editors Chris Wilson and Stefanos Polyzoides, three writers who grew up steeped in the plaza milieu contribute cogent essays.”
Read more: PAW’s story on Polyzoides and his wife and professional partner Elizabeth Moule *87 in the Sept. 15, 2004 issue.