Chris Wilson, JB Jackson chair of cultural landscape studies in the UNM School of Architecture and Planning, recently published "The Plazas of New Mexico" with Trinity University Press.

The book represents 10 years of work by Wilson and his colleagues as well as five years during which students in Historic Preservation and Regionalism graduate certificate program, which Wilson directs, took on the project in the research seminar. Some 60 students are contributors to the book.

UNM Distinguished Professor and Interdisciplinary Film and Digital Media Director Miguel Gandert provided story and place-telling photographs. Architect and urbanist Jose Zelaya provided drawings and diagrams.

"The premise of the Historic Preservation and Regionalism program is to teach students how to study New Mexico communities and contribute to the vitality of culture and place," he said.

"New Mexico has the oldest, most varied traditions of community places," Wilson said, noting that 22 communities were assessed, with Acoma being the oldest, from 1150; and Santa Rosa and Roy being the newest, in 1901. Also receiving mention are very new additions, Aldea de Santa Fe and Mesa del Sol, both from 2007.

"The few built in the early part of the 20th century were tourist plazas," Wilson said, adding that Albuquerque's plaza's history is the oldest, vibrant plaza used with an unbroken history of use as both community space and tourism attraction.

The book isn't just about history, however. Wilson said, "Understanding the tradition and sharing it with planners, designers and residents helps foster community vitality."

He said that when towns were established around plazas it created a sustainable community. "It is pedestrian oriented and creates denser areas with vital public spaces that improve the quality of life and serve as an attractive alternative to suburbia," Wilson said.

Several events are scheduled to celebrate the book's release.

An exhibition featuring some of Gandert's photos and nine plaza profiles opens on Monday, Oct. 3 and will be open weekdays from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. through Friday, Oct. 14 in the George Pearl Hall Gallery, 2401 Central NE.

An exhibition opening and booksigning is set for Friday, Oct. 7, 5:30-7 p.m., George Pearl Hall.

A symposium on "The Plazas of New Mexico" is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 8, 9 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. in George Pearl Hall. The event is free and open to the public. To register for the continental breakfast before and buffet lunch after, send your name and email address to Ellen Steeves.

A talk and booksigning are set for Sunday, Oct.16, at 2 p.m. at the History Museum, Museum of New Mexico, 113 Lincoln Avenue, Santa Fe.

For more information, contact Chris Wilson, 505-277-3303.

Media Contact: Carolyn Gonzales (505) 277-5920; e-mail: cgonzal@unm.edu