A small group of devoted residents met every other week to discuss sustainability, conservation, growth, architecture, landscape, climate change and the future of La Luz. Enamored with the site, the design, the intent, the community, the built and natural environment, we wanted to create an organization that would support, offer to enhance, protect, and share the ideas of La Luz –– long after we are gone. We studied founding documents, read up on and spoke with people about the early years, and learned along the way that there are people far and wide who know La Luz well and care about its future.
nuts + bolts
We wrote our mission and vision statements based on our first year of meetings, which allowed us to establish a non-profit corporation in New Mexico. We recruited and established a Board of Directors, created a starter website, honed our goals by priority and feasibility and adopted our first bylaws.
We digitized and reprinted the 1978 Homeowner's Handbook in its original format with a new forward introducing the Foundation. We distributed this as a gift to the community. This beautifully designed book is filled with the spirit of La Luz's beginnings as well as some practical resources. It's an historic asset we felt strongly should be redistributed to further foster a sense of stewardship.
In June, we participated in Terra 2022, the 13th World Congress on Earthen Architectural Heritage, held in Santa Fe. As part of this effort, we hosted a guided walking tour of the buildings and grounds to fifteen enthusiastic architects, historians and preservationists from all over the world. In attendance was Susan MacDonald, Head of Buildings and Sites for the Getty Conservation Institute as well as Francisco Uvina, Director for the Historic Preservation and Regionalism Graduate Certificate for the School of Architecture and Planning at UNM.
Being a unique community of adobe buildings designed in an architecturally modern style, La Luz del Oeste also appeals to groups who focus on Modern Architecture. We made contact with the Director of Docomomo US and intend to support the future creation of a New Mexico Chapter to represent the Southwest.
Frank Matero, Chair of the Graduate Program for Historic Preservation at the Weitzman School of Design at University of Pennsylvania was one of the many contacts we made at Terra 2022. He advised that establishing an archive was a critical step in the process of preserving the history of La Luz for the future. We were proud to have already begun this effort with a gift from our former neighbor and one of the first residents at La Luz, Robert Peters.
la luz archives
With the help of a wonderful neighbor, we internally processed and digitally cataloged the first phase of our archives, made ready to hand off to UNM. In September, we toured the Antoine Predock archives at the Zimmerman Library with Audra Belmore, Director of the UNM Center for Southwest Research and met with Robert Gonzalez, Dean of UNM School of Architecture and Planning. The archives of La Luz, including a complete collection of original floor plans, sketches, construction photographs, documents and periodicals, have been granted a home at UNM. Our goal is to help fund a graduate student in 2023 to process the archives making them accessible and searchable online.
We have been working with the state of New Mexico Historic Preservation Division to complete an application for nomination to the National Registry of Historic Districts. This prestigious honor would elevate the profile of La Luz and allow access to a specific category of grants which could be used for restoration of original communal design features in La Luz.
We researched and assessed the remaining unprotected land adjacent to La Luz for the development of a plan to conserve the space.
La Luz was the recipient of a great honor in being named to the National Register of Historic Places on October 27, a unique achievement in New Mexico for a modern community. The Foundation worked closely, for more than a year, with the New Mexico State Office of Historic Preservation to prepare the application to make our winning nomination a reality. This achievement promises to bring very favorable attention and appreciation to the Community and help to attract external recognition and support.
la luz archives
Through an agreement with the John Gaw Meem Archive of Southwestern Architecture at UNM the process of establishing a formal repository for La Luz’s history has been initiated. The effort to gather materials from community members has begun, which will be digitized and made available online. In collaboration with the New Mexico Architectural Foundation and the UNM Meem Archive, we mounted a successful tour of La Luz and the Antoine Predock Studio where approximately $2000 was raised and contributed to the Meem Archive to support the organizing and processing of the La Luz materials given thus far.
Very successful group tours of La Luz for prominent Albuquerque arts and architecture organizations, The Earthbuilders Guild, Contemporary Art Society of New Mexico, and New Mexico Architectural Foundation, were held. Also, a future tour in April of next year was arranged for The National Society of Architecture Historians. The impact of these tours was enhanced by the publication of a beautiful and informative La Luz Tour Brochure. All these activities serve to bring attention and interest to La Luz by important and influential local and national audiences. This renewed visibility is a critical arm in the larger fundraising goals of the Foundation.
Early in the year we answered a call for abstracts and were accepted to present at the 2023 National Symposium of Docomomo US. Two of our Directors traveled to New Haven, CT in June to make a presentation about La Luz in front of audience "dedicated to the documentation and conservation of buildings, sites and neighborhoods of the modern movement."
Partnership discussions began with the UNM School of Architecture and the Department of Historic Preservation at the University of Pennsylvania, one of the leading graduate programs of its kind in the country.
A grant proposal was submitted to the McCune Foundation in Santa Fe requesting general support of the La Luz Foundation; awards will be announced in Spring 2024.