A building that was once a boarding house during the World War II era and then a motel got a complete makeover when the project team was tasked with fulfilling the owner's vision of sustainable yet affordable housing space in Santa Fe, N.M. But the goal to convert the existing buildings into LEED-Platinum certified apartment units faced hurdles, as the existing structures did not have insulation. To overcome this, the existing exterior was enclosed in cell foam and finished with stucco. The pursuit of LEED Platinum also necessitated refurbishing the original plumbing system.

Drawing from early motor inn designs, the 16 single-occupancy units and 44 family units cluster around central courtyards, creating four smaller "neighborhoods" that encourage resident interaction. Each courtyard connects residents to walking trails that lead to rainwater-irrigated gardens, outdoor fitness stations and community open space. Rainwater harvesting and optimal solar orientation enhance natural heating and cooling. The shotgun-style apartments offer quality cross ventilation and feature private outdoor space at both the front and back, resulting in lower utility bills for low-income residents.

Existing vigas, fireplaces, Saltillo tile bathrooms, wood decking and other vintage details were preserved, and a vintage neon motel sign was repurposed as signage for the project.

Stage Coach ApartmentsSanta Fe, N.M.

Key Players

Contractor Pavilion Construction, Portland, Ore.

Owner The Housing Trust, Santa Fe

Lead Design Integrated Design and Architecture, Albuquerque

Landscape Serquis+Associates Landscape Architecture, Santa Fe

MEP Assurance Engineering, Albuquerque

Structural Engineer MacCornack Engineering, Albuquerque

Civil Engineer RME Santa Fe Engineering Inc., Santa Fe

Fire Protection Assurance Engineering, Albuquerque