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School of Architecture + Planning


Santa Fe house wins the 2017 Jeff Harnar Award for Contemporary Architecture

March 7, 2017 - Carolyn Gonzales

The University of New Mexico School of Architecture & Planning hosted the award jury and presentation for the 2017 Jeff Harnar Award for Contemporary Architecture, honoring the winner, the Sundial House in Santa Fe. The designers are Specht Architects, with offices in Austin and New York City. The winners receive $10,000 and a custom fabricated award, made of stone and glass that was designed by an artist.

Scott Specht, founding principal of Specht Architects, wrote, “We just heard that our Sundial House was the recipient of this year’s Jeff Harnar Award, and we are excited and incredibly humbled to be in the company of such talented previous recipients. 

Jury chair Benjamin Gilmartin, AIA, partner at Diller Scofidio + Renfro of New York City, presented the award to John Quale, UNM director of architecture, who received it on behalf of Specht.

Gilmartin then delivered the Annual Harnar Lecture, in honor of the tenth anniversary of the Jeff Harnar Award for Contemporary Architecture.

 “The Sundial House was our firm’s first project in New Mexico, and our visits to the state left us inspired by the power and beauty of the landscape and by the sense of limitlessness that the culture evokes. Jeff Harnar’s work was dedicated to these core values--the importance of site and necessity of inventive expression--and we are honored that our project has been deemed to have lived up to the high standards he set in his work,” Specht wrote.

This ridgetop house in Santa Fe is organized around a pair of perpendicular concrete walls. The walls serve as an element of continuity, linking interior and exterior spaces with the landscape beyond. A narrow skylight runs the entire 125 foot length of one wall, casting changing shadows on the board formed concrete over the span of the day.

The front of the house is set into the earth. The entry procession flows through a recessed courtyard into a cool, private vestibule. An opening cut into one of the concrete walls then leads into the main body of the house, where panoramic views of the Sangre de Cristos are revealed. The large expanses of glass are deeply shaded by the cantilevered roof forms that create portales around the perimeter. 

Of the award, Quale said, “While there are several awards for architecture in New Mexico, mostly through the American Institute of Architects, the Harnar Award is unique in that it is exclusively for contemporary architecture — essentially encouraging the design community to continue to innovate and experiment — whether it is a new building or a renovation or historic preservation.” He added that very few architecture awards come with prize money.

Quale also thanked the Thornburg Foundation for their support.

Click for slideshow.