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3453 New Mexico 14 by Bill Stengle
3453 New Mexico 14 by Bill Stengle

Architecture

“Green” Living

Modern Home Tours brings sustainable homes to New Mexico

Frank Lloyd Wright once said that “every great architect is—necessarily—a great poet. He must be a great original interpreter of his time, his day, his age.” Given that we live in a state that stresses the importance of sustainable living and eco-friendly promise, the field of architecture has progressed with the trends of becoming environmentally viable.

So, you might ask what are some of the ways that people can become more “green,” seeing as how it's not only a topic of conversation equalling the new “Kardashians” episode, but an actual concern that's permeating the atmosphere, so to speak.

Based in Austin, Texas, Matt Swinney and James Leasure started the Modern Home Tour in 2011 in an effort to combine beautiful architecture with sustainable living. Using the likes of floor-to-ceiling windows to bring in natural light and using solar panels, rather than wasteful air conditioning units, to power the home, these little casitas are aimed and designed at giving people a fresh look at living to protect our future.

“I think that the simple fact is that resources are limited and the population is growing,” Leasure said. “A lot of the really advanced architecture and modern design can help us achieve that.”

Now, the idea of sustainable living isn't without its arguments. Having spoken to several people about the idea of sustainable living, some feel that the idea of trying to promote eco-friendly measures is something that is simply delaying the inevitable. Because of the limited resources, and the idea that the world is crumbling little by little, it would be easy to argue that the actions of a few can hardly outweigh those of the majority.

“In order to take a step, you have to take half a step, and in order to take half a step, you have to take a quarter step,” Leasure said. “There is some value here, and that's sort of our goal, that we show people that this can be interesting and attractive, and even if they won't do it for your fellow man, they can at least see this as being interesting and beautiful.”

And beauty does seem to be one of the main tenets of what Modern Home Tours hopes to achieve. Using geothermal heating and cooling as well as rainwater collection to reuse and recycle what nature gives us, they are showcasing million-dollar homes for people to see how modernity can be beneficial, and how people can use these benefits to advance their home to not only be sustainably sound, but also to educate and teach about how recycling and living green can prolong our future.

But, it seems somewhat ridiculous that people would be able to afford homes of this magnitude, much less adopt the ideas of living green as a measure of everyday life. From looking at these homes, it appears that the ideas of sustainable living can only cater to those who have fat wallets. But Leasure assures that while these homes are somewhat expensive, the ideas aren't.

“The quirks are very acceptable,” Leasure said. “If you take something like that [sustainable living and geothermal cooling] and put them in a new house that doesn't have to have a modern design, you can see that this becomes a real and tangible thing.”

Modern Home Tours will showcase their “green” homes in Taos, N.M. on Saturday, April 27 and in Santa Fe, N.M. on Sunday, April 28, both days from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Advance tickets are $30 and include both days of the tour, or you can purchase tickets the day of the tours for $40. Children 12 and under get in for free. For home addresses and more information, you can visit newmexico.modernhometours.com.

Albuquerque should be glorifying flashy, vintage buildings like this one—not homogenizing them.
Albuquerque should be glorifying flashy, vintage buildings like this one—not homogenizing them.

Architecture

Car dealership ditches cool roof

This photo was taken a few weeks ago at the northwest corner of Lomas and University. By now the exuberant, mid-century roof (a style referred to as mannered modernism), dating back to the glory days of the American automobile, is mostly obscured by a bland facade.

R.I.P. Aztec Motel
R.I.P. Aztec Motel

Architecture

Aztec Motel razed

A piece of Americana was lost last week as the Aztec Motel, which once stood at Central and Aliso in Nob Hill, was demolished. According to this KRQE report, owner Jerry Landgraf, said it would have cost too much—an estimated $1 million (which, in the scheme of things, seems like an insignificant amount of money)—to restore the memorabilia-bedecked landmark, built in 1932. Landgraf now intends to erect lofts or shops at the site. On the bright side, the City of Albuquerque owns El Vado and the De Anza, and plans to restore those historic Route 66 motels.

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