Skip to main content

School of Architecture + Planning

SHoP Architects, designers of SITE Santa Fe, Winner of 11th Annual Jeff Harnar Award for Contemporary Architecture in New Mexico. First Winners of Jeff Harnar Awards for Unbuilt Design Announced

February 24, 2018 - John Quale

SITE Santa Fe at night.

UNM School of Architecture + Planning and the Thornburg Foundation announced yesterday that the Winner of 2018 Jeff Harnar Award for Contemporary Architecture is SHoP Architects, of NewYork City, for their expansion and thoughtful re-imagination of SITE Santa Fe, a contemporary art institution located in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The project involved redesigning the exhibition spaces of the noted contemporary art venue, as well as the administrative and educational facilities. SHoP Architects worked closely with SITE Santa Fe administrative team to develop an appealing and functional building with an exuberant façade signaling the unique mission of SITE Santa Fe. The New Mexico based Architect of Record was Allegretti Architects, and the contractor was Sarcon Construction.

SITE interior


The winner of the award receives an unique artist-designed award. The winning architecture firm receives a $10,000 financial prize, one of the largest in the world of architecture as well as a unique artist designed award. Garrett Thornburg, chair of the Thornburg Foundation and Chairman of
Thornburg Investment Management created the Harnar Award to recognize innovative contemporary architecture. The Architecture Department at the University of New Mexico’s School of Architecture + Planning manages the award and event.

Japanese architect Yuko Nagayama of Tokyo served as the jury chair, and the speaker for 2018 Harnar Lecture. Her lecture was entitled “Architecture as a Trigger.” She describes her design process as focused on phenomena, stating “if you focus on the immaterial, the material will fall into place.”


Other jurors included Kory Bieg, Principal of OTA+ and an Assistant Professor of Architecture at the University of Texas-Austin; E.B. Min, Principal at Min | Day in San Francisco and Omaha; Kima Wakefield, UNM Senior Lecturer of Architecture; and Aaron Zahm, from MRWM Landscape Architects in Albuquerque. UNM Architecture Chair and Professor John Quale serves as the Director of the Jeff Harnar Award.


For the first time this year, the Jeff Harnar Award included two Unbuilt Design categories: one in Unbuilt Architecture and the other in Unbuilt Landscape Architecture. The designs can be intended to be built anywhere in the world, but the submissions are limited to designers living in New Mexico. The winner of Jeff Harnar Unbuilt Architecture Award went to University of New Mexico Master of Architecture student Darby Prendergast, for his theoretical project “Vertical Cemetery for Extinct Species.” Prendergast’s provocative and intriguing design was completed in a Masters Design Studio taught by UNM Principal Lecturer Karen King.

Darby Prendergast Rendering

The winner of Unbuilt Landscape Architecture category was Surroundings Studio, for their project “Murchison Rogers Park,” sited in El Paso, Texas. Kenneth Francis, one of the principals of the firm, worked with Will Iadevaia and Carly Piccarello on the design. The jury appreciated the strategic integration of the design into a complex topographic condition that both addressed technical issues and the importance of a comfortable experience for visitors to an extraordinary site.

Surrounding Studios Image 

Both professionals and architecture students submitted projects to the new Jeff Harnar Unbuilt Design award. The awards honor the late Jeff Harnar, known for his groundbreaking design in contemporary architecture in New Mexico.