The City of Santa Fe sought assistance with an assessment of the Airport Road corridor. They found the right people for the job in the UNM School of Architecture and Planning's Community and Regional Planning program. "It is Santa Fe's emerging immigrant district that features affordable housing and '70s and '80s era strip malls. In the last five to seven years Mexican immigrant businesses have moved in," said Moises Gonzales, assistant professor, adding that the area is seeing a rise in the student numbers at area schools.

The city wanted to have a vision for the area. City Councilor Carmichael Dominguez, Miguel Acosta, Santa Fe Community Partnership, and Katherine Mortimer, Sustainable Santa Fe, decided a corridor plan was in order and approached the School of Architecture and Planning.

Given the conditions, Gonzales and his advanced planning studio and colleague Assistant Professor Tim Imeokparia worked to help agencies understand all the complexities, issues and development scenarios.

The UNM team assessed the corridor's housing, community services, shopping, Airport Road business district, public safety and gateway to the community. "We looked at appropriate sites to locate facilities. We explored affordable housing sites and came up with a strategy for use of vacant land. We looked at the corridor in totality, including neighborhood centers and a way to formalize the vendors' street trucks," said Gonzales.

Gonzales said that once they completed the plan, they met with city staff at a community meeting.

Mortimer said, "Moises, Tim and the students were a great team. We had a very broad resolution of things to address and cover." She said that sometimes students let "reality go" in a project, but that a real project teaches students about delivering a project in its reality to the client.

"They did an excellent job. They gathered amazing data, and studied it within context. They came up with recommendations, some of which are moving forward. All their presentations were professional and well done."

Mortimer said she worked with students before when she worked in the University of California Berkeley's campus planning office. "The UNM students were on par with those from Berkeley. Tim and Moises provided strong leadership that demanded excellence," she said.

The senior planning studio and faculty were rewarded for their efforts with an award from the city of Santa Fe. Mortimer called Gonzales and told him that the city council was awarding them with a Muchas Gracias Award for Public Service. "It was given to the studio for efforts in community planning and how our work will guide their planning efforts," he said.

Santa Fe liked their work so much that they are currently in talks with Gonzales about a St. Michaels corridor studio for the community college district. "Santa Fe is looking beyond tourism for their branding in developing a code for the downtown district. They came to us because we have corridor expertise," he said.

Media Contact: Carolyn Gonzales (505) 277-5920; email: