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Submitted to the Graduate Faculty
of Texas Tech University in
Partial Fulfillment of
the Requirements for
the Degree of
December, 1990
Pueblo Indian Architecture 9
Spanish Colonial and Mexican Architecture 13
American Period Territorial and Railroad Style 16
Revival Style 23
Preservation Problems 34
Rehabilitation and Preservation of Adobe Structures 37
Stabilization of Adobe 42
Evolution of Residential Architecture 45
Popularity of Residential Adobe Architecture 59
Production of Adobe Bricks 68
Production Methods of Adobe Bricks 73
1. The map of the region 2
2. Taos Pueblo Multistoried North Plaza Building 11
3. The plan of Taos center 11
4. Palace of the Governors which was built in 1610 and is the oldest
public building in the United States 14
5. Plan of Martinez Hacienda, Taos, N.M 17
6. The Oniz House built in the late 1700's 21
7. The new type of plan with central hall and doubling of rooms is due
to influence of Greek Revival movement 22
8. Territorial style adobe building on Canyon Road, Santa Fe 24
9. Laboratory of Anthropology, Santa Fe, Administration and Research Building 27
10. Water, wind, animal, insect, and vegetation damage 35
11. Zuni Pueblo 48
12. The evolution of the pit house to the pueblo 50
13. Urban forms of historical pueblos 51
14. Hacienda plan 54
15. Floor plan of the traditional house from southern Turkey 55
16. A common L-shaped plan with a single-file of rooms with porch 57
17. This is a classical example of rural pitched roof adobes in Tmchas, N.M 62
18. Carlos Vierra House, Santa Fe, was built in 1915 64
19. Van Dresser House, Santa Fe, was built in 1958 65
"The sun returns, but time never."
Roman saying
The topic of this study will be Residential Adobe Architecture around Santa Fe and
Taos from 1900 to present (see figure 1). The thesis statement is that adobe has long been
an important building material and continues to be in use today. Understanding the
technology and historic use of the material enables us to plan for better restoration and use
the material effectively in new constmction.
The research for this study is divided into four main chapters with conclusions. The
first chapter deals with the architectural background and historic use of adobe material from
the Indian Pueblo period to the American Anglo period. The second chapter covers the
historic preservation of adobe buildings. This chapter gives ideas about preservation
problems and their solutions. The third chapter discusses the architectural and cultural
significance of residential adobe architecture. This chapter deals with the evolution and
popularity of residential adobe architecture during the 20th century. The plan of adobe
houses has many influences from other cultures such as Spanish, Muslim and other Middle
East and Mediterranean cultures. The production and manufacturing of adobe bricks in the
Santa Fe and Taos region is the contents of the last chapter.
From the time mankind first congregated in villages almost 10,000 years ago, unbaked
earth has been one of the principal building materials used on every continent. The first
towns in the world, in Ur, in Jericho, in Babylon, and in Nineveh, were built primarily of
sun-dried mud bricks. Furthermore, over one-third of the world's population still lives in
earth houses. For example, far from being limited to ancient history, adobe has long been
a major building material for New Mexico.
Figure 1. The map of the region.
The Indian, Spanish, and Anglo cultures have used adobe for home building. The
construction of New Mexico buildings has always revolved around adobe as a primary
construction material. Adobe as we know it originated in northern New Mexico, with the
term "adobe" deriving from the Spanish word "adobar," meaning "to knead." However,
some others state that the temi comes from Spanish and Moroccan roots meaning "to mix"
or "to puddle." Adobe reflects the influence of Spanish colonists from Mexico who
brought their own brick-making techniques with them when they settled in New Mexico at
the end of the 16th century. The Spanish word has been traced (via the Arabic at-tob) all
the way back to the Egyptian hieroglyphic "t'b," meaning "brick." So it is easy to see that
adobe is a vital and long-lasting building material.
This ancient material has a long history of widespread use by the Indian, Spanish, and
Anglo-American residents in and around Santa Fe and Taos. The development of adobe
over hundreds of years has formed the backbone of New Mexico's architectural heritage.
Both the indigenous and eclectic architectural landscape continue to distinguish this slate
from the rest of the nation.
Regardless of periods and styles, until the present time, architecture in New Mexico
has commonly revolved around adobe as a primary building material. The state of New
Mexico has a building heritage older than any other part of the United States. Especially
impressive is the influence of ancient and historic regional styles that still bear on much of
today's building. Indeed, adobe is a cultural heritage of New Mexico.
Man has been building permanent structures in New Mexico for more than 2()(X) years.
Pithouses with stone-lined pits and wood and earth roofs were built as eariy as 300 B.C.
Multi-unit buildings with stone and mud walls above ground date from 7(X) A.D. The
evolution of the architecture in New Mexico can be broken down into four eras: Indian
(A.D. 700-1598), Spanish and Mexican Colonial (A.D. 1598-1848), Territorial (A.D.
1848-1912), and later American (A.D. 1912-present).
Adobe has been used extensively around Santa Fe and Taos since primitive times. The
use of earth started with the Indian Pueblo people, and their culture furnished the basic
methods and materials for early Spanish Colonial architecture. Later these two cultures
were the basis of Anglo architecture in the region.
The use of adobe has been confined to the arid and semiarid regions of the earth. This
is due to the unique adaptability of adobe to such locales, the cost or scarcity of other
materials, and the comparative ease of adobe construction. Among the advantages of adobe
is its comparative simplicity of construction, which allows the use of unskilled labor.
Adobe also ensures optimal "thermal comfort," providing natural regulation between indoor
and outdoor temperatures, in sharp contrast to the heat-loss and overheating characteristic
of other materials and particularly of concrete. It is particularly suited to the needs of
Southwest do-it-yourself home building. Spectacular examples of both historical and
adobe revival houses are to be found in the Santa Fe and Taos areas.
The Adobe Revival style is a part of the historic preservation movement,an effort to
memorialize cultural backgrounds, architecture, and people from the past in the region.
Therefore, to have a continuance of the architectural heritage, one should preserve this rich
and unique architecture in an appropriate way. Indeed, the past could be a guide for
present and future generations. The residential architecture is an especially clear mirror for
the evaluation of society and its culture, its architecture and its history. It is possible to see
these attributes around Santa Fe and Taos because of the three different cultures and their
accumulative mixture. This popular architectural heritage ought to be preserved to
remember the past. John Gaw Meem, a New Mexican architect, had a statement about this
as follows;
In the world that is increasingly tending to think alike and look like, it is
important to cherish and preserve those elements in our culture that belong
to us and help differentiate us. We are fortunate in this region in that we
have a style of architecture that uniquely belongs to us and visually makes
memories of our history and earth itself. ^
The residential adobe architecture around Santa Fe and Taos (northern New Mexico)
will be the subject for this thesis. Houses here have one or the other of two different
origins: The first origin produces vernacular houses (village houses around the cities),
which derive from Spain and Mexico. They have evolved naturally in a forthright manner
from diverse cultural sources and have become a rich and varied regional style, different
from adobe styles elsewhere in the worid. The second origin is the "Santa Fe Style,"
which is a self-conscious attempt to recapture a romantic image of old Southwest
architecture, both Spanish and Indian. The Santa Fe adobe style has eclipsed any other
styles in the area.
The region tributary to Santa Fe and Taos is one of the oldest and richest
archaeological territories in the Western Hemisphere, reaching back several thousand years.
However, for a long time, it was isolated from other parts of the United States. The first
discovery of ancient cities was made by Spanish Colonial people. Later, in 1610, Santa Fe
became a capital city for the Spanish Colonial people. But when the Santa Fe Trail opened
in 1821, it opened a door between ancient history and other parts of the country. The city
became a gate between New Mexico and other parts of the United States Indeed, the
influence from the eastern and midwestem United States began to trickle slowly into the
region. New building materials and ideas were introduced. During the 20th century, both
Santa Fe and Taos with their distinctive art and architecture became colonial art centers.
Many artists, writers, architects, and other people who had a strong interest in
Southwestern culture moved to the region for this reason. Their purpose was to discov er
ancient history, culture, art and architecture. This movement gave birth to the Pueblo-
Spanish style of architecture (the Santa Fe style).
The history of architecture in New Mexico included the development of the Santa Fe
style in the early 1900's. The terni refers to Pueblo Revival or Spanish Pueblo or Adobe
Revival. This revival architectural structure represents imitations of Indian Pueblo and
Spanish Colonial architecture. Spanish Pueblo, Pueblo Revival, and Territorial are all
modes or variations of the same basic elements. This style was very different in origin,
intent, and appearance from the adobe houses of rural New Mexico. The key elements of
the style were (and still are) flat roofs, walls of adobe or at least of material thick enough to
suggest adobe, earth-colored stucco on the exterior, and white plaster on the interior. The
exterior woodwork was stained dark brown or painted white. In the interior the woodwork
was likewise stained, and incorporated a set of details including corbels, bancos,
fireplaces, and portals.
There are several reasons for this study. One of them is that adobe was an ancient
building material that today has became popular again in the region. Indeed, the Indian and
Spanish people are still building the adobe structure because it is part of their past, and
adobe is one of the materials that they have skill to use in their structures. What are some
reasons for other people to build adobe structures? Perhaps they are part of the romantic
regional movement to preserve adobe architectural heritage in the region.
The other reason is that adobe construction offers a great saving in energy. Adobe
bricks are not baked and they need little if any transportation, because they can be produced
on site or locally. Adobe buildings also require less heating and cooling. During the
production of adobe bricks, and during building the structure, one can use unskilled labor.
All these factors make adobe materials cheap and therefore economical to use.
Another reason is the wealth of cultural and historical stories behind the adobe houses
around Santa Fe and Taos, houses which have roots ft^om ancient times adapted to modem
times. There should be some significance about them that people still build these houses
and want to live in them. The plan of the house has connections with those of houses
which were built in Mesopotamia and Egypt, as well as in the Roman and Muslim worlds
(in the Middle East). This connection also will form a part of this study because there are
houses that are still built in a manner similar to those built by Muslim people.
The last reason for this study is concern for historic preservation movements,
preservation problems, and preservation of the adobe structures. What we see today
around Santa Fe and Taos is part of the past. The preservation movement started at the
beginning of the 20th century when Santa Fe and Taos became colonial art centers.
Therefore, the Museum of New Mexico was the center for restoring, preserving, and
displaying the archaeology, ethnology, history, and art of the southwest in 1907. The
museum of New Mexico started an exemplary historic preservation movement in the
region. With this historic preservation movement, the historic adobe structures have been
gradually restored.
This study will provide a historical background of adobe material with the present use
of material in the region. Throughout the study, one can see how this primitive material
gave form to a dream of modern man to build a structure and live in it. Adobe is the
material through which the builder of the structure can give his feeling and spirit to the
building. In addition, every individual adobe structure is part of its environment and
A house bom of the brown earth
and dying back to earth again,
Without any desire to be more than earth
and without any particular pain.
Beside an acequia bringing water
to com not yet tall.
Adobe architecture can be found on every continent; not only in the form of historical
and archaeological remains but also in the infinite number of towns and villages where the
secular heritage, enriched by exchange between the most varied civilizations, is perpetuated
daily. Adobe has been widely used all over the world from ancient times to the present.
Mesopotamians and Egyptians, later Romans, and then Muslims built adobe stmctures in
Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. Far Eastern peoples also build with adobe, including
the Indus civilization, Buddhist monks, and Chinese emperors. During the Middle Ages,
adobe construction was practiced in North America by the Indians, in Mexico by the
Toltecs and the Aztecs. The Spanish conquerors of America brought with them European
techniques of adobe architecture and introduced them into traditions already established
From world history, archaeological records survive from cities built entirely of earth;
the earliest city, Jericho, begun almost 10,000 years ago; Catal Huyuk in Turkey: Harappa
and Mohenjo-Daro in Pakistan; Akhlet-Aton in Egypt; Cha-Cha in Pern; Babylon in Iraq;
Zuheros near Cordoba in Spain; and Khirokitia in Cyprus. There are thousands of adobe
buildings elsewhere in the world.^
This chapter will deal with the use of adobe material among Indian , Spanish and
Anglo-American people in northern New Mexico. The development of the adobe houses
will be surveyed step by step in Indian, Spanish and Anglo-American societies. Each
adobe house in the area took its form according to the cultural background of the builder
because every culture has added some distinctive elements to the house, either architectural
or cultural. These developments of residential architecture have given form to the adobe
structures to be found around Santa Fe and Taos today. This is a long and interesting
story; it is significant for us today in order to understand the adobe house. The cultural
background and traditions of society gave appropriate form to the residential architecture.
A house is a mirror of daily life, the way of living and doing things.
There are several reasons for the use of adobe as a building material in the region.
Some of them are economic; some are cultural and climatic. For example, stone and wood
are perfect and available building materials in New Mexico, but for a long time people
preferred to use adobe as the major building material. In some places people used adobe
material with stone and wood materials but this practice was not common, because they did
not have metal tools to trim stone and wood. Under all these circumstances adobe was the
perfect building material for unskilled labor.
Pueblo Indian Architecture
Pueblo was the name given to a the permanent town by the first Spanish explorers in
the Southwest. "Pueblo" is the word for town in Spanish, a word conveying the sense of
both architecture and urban sophistication. The Pueblo Indian is the oldest among
important cultures in Southwestern architectural history. Pueblo Indian architecture's
differences from other forms of architecture consist of its large scale and its continuation
over a very long period of time. It has a sound approach to energy and conservation and
integrates design and just plain beauty in folk-vernacular expression.
Throughout history, most of the pueblos have changed their visual state, but the
framework of a thousand-year building heritage is still apparent. For instance, in a
conservative center such as Taos Pueblo, which remains much as it was when the Spanish
first saw it in the 16th century and is still prominent^ (see figures 2 and 3).
The history of Pueblo Indian architecture has a complex and often elusive historical
development. The major Puebloan cultural events and buildings are usually divided into
five phases. They are Pueblo I, 700 to 900; Pueblo II, 900 to 1050, Pueblo III, 1050 to
1300, Pueblo IV, 1300 to about 1700; and Pueblo V, 1700 to recent times.
Pueblo I and Pueblo II built their villages into small communities. The houses had flat
roofs and were built above ground of poles and mud. These were samll towns in which
"the rectilinear house units were built of stone masonry and sometimes multistoried."
Pueblo i n is known as the Classic period, "the apogee of Anasazi culture, when large
numbers of people occupied towns of considerable size and social complexity flourished."
During Pueblo IV, some of the communities began moving toward "a cultural renaissance"
because of the first Spanish expedition in 1540. However, it was during this time that
most pueblos which have remained to the present were established. "Pueblo V culture has
been progressively affected by outside influences, first Spanish and then American. This
estimation has been given a very brief accounting in the introduction to Early Architecture
in New Mexico by historian Bainbridge Bunting."3
Prior to Spanish colonization and along the Rio Grande, houses were generally
massive, built of hand-packed earth. The Spaniards seem to have introduced the use of
simple stone rubble footings, outdoor baking ovens, and interior fireplaces, as well as the
technology of forming the same humble earth into brick-adobes-which were dried in the
sun and laid in mud mortar.
Roofs were made of peeled logs~or vigas-with smaller poles and brush or
reeds laid over them, finished with a dense layer of packed earth. A gradual
VV\ ^v v . ^ ^ ^ , , .
'^>,^ 'r^^,i!i^
.'-^..tU-^'' i-' '-'* 'tp^i*
Figure 2. Taos Pueblo Multistoried North Plaza Building. It carries the tradition of
pueblo architecture into the present.
t . . * i 4 , Owf i l Ml 0**l ^
K mv*
Figure 3. The plan of Taos center. Two massive terraced house blocks around a
large plaza.
slope routed water from the flat roofs to drain spouts, or canales. Doors
and windows were minimal and covered with, if anything, textiles or hides,
and later, translucent selenite sheets and hand-adzed, pintled wooden
The historic Pueblo architecture frequently exhibits climatically well-attuned siting and
construction considerations. Especially in earlier, less self-conscious styles, generated
within an economy of scarcity-the "vemacular"-there is almost always the reflection of an
enduring folk-wisdom. Today in some of the Indian pueblos, an increasing sensitivity to
the importance of their built heritage has fostered encouraging, and sometime innovative,
efforts toward adaptive reuse and historic preservation of old structures.
The early adobe bricks were molded by hand. The sides and bases of the brick were
flat planes, but the upper surfaces were rounded. In New Mexico, the Indians had a way
of forming the mud into long, low bands which were called "puddled adobe." It is like
"pise" or rammed earth constmction, "except that here the blends of mud from 15 to 20
inches high were laid without the aid of wooden forms. The technique was laborious and
slow, as each band had to dry thoroughly before the next one could be added." This
process could take several months per layer. Pise is more difficult to manage than brick
and has never been used to the extent of the latter. A more typical example of puddle
construction in the Rio Grande Valley is a group of rooms still standing at Picuri Pueblo.^
In addition to adobe puddling, two other materials were used by the Indians: stone and
jacal. Since Indians did not have metal tools for trimming stone, the ledges of rocks were
laid in a mortar of adobe. This construction weathered much better than regular adobe
work. Jacal construction involved "setting vertical members of wood in the ground at short
intervals and filling between them widi mud." It was used by prehistoric Indians in Mexico
and other places.^ The basic planning and architecture of the Indian pueblo derive from
nature and the world view of the Pueblo people. Indeed, "traditional Puebloans see
themselves and their society as part of a larger, comprehensive, sacred ecosystem."
As such, all things were historically cherished and conserved. Rain water
was collected or carefully diverted to irrigation. Every cloud and every
season were cause to acknowledge and implore cooperation with the
elements. Within tiie challenging natural ecology of the region,
cooperation, intensification and "miniaturization' are manifested in Pueblo
Indian Architecture. This sensibility, and its built artifacts, fostered and
sustained a people of deeper culture development, stability and productivity
than anyone else in the area for hundreds of years.'^
Spanish Colonial and Mexican Architecture
A considerable part of New Mexico's unique architecture was forged during the
Spanish Colonial and later Mexican periods (1598-1846), although virtually no unaltered
buildings exist from these years. The documentation covers that of the first Spanish
setUement of San Gabriel, near present San Juan Pueblo in 1598, up through the Mexican
period of 1823 -1846. The best surviving examples of Spanish Colonial architecture are
found in mission churches in the Indian pueblos and mral Spanish towns, and haciendas
and smaller farmhouses of northern New Mexico.^
The city of Santa Fe was established as the colonial capital in 1610 by Pedro de
Peralta, who was sent to establish a permanent administrative and military capital of
Spanish settiement in New Mexico. The Spanish colonists chose Santa Fe because it was a
site enclosed on the north and east. This location also offered irrigation and unoccupied
tillable land. The colonists laid out a rectangular plaza as the center of their settiement,
faced on the north by the residence of the royal governor (today, this building is called the
Palace of the Governors), on the east by a church, and on the other sides by houses of
leading families.^ The Palace of Governors is the oldest public building in the United
States (see figure 4).
The Spanish settlers of northern New Mexico adopted the basic materials and forms of
architecture they found being used by the Indian people, entirely dependent upon materials
at hand. 10
Figure 4. Palace of the Governors which was built in 1610 and is the oldest public
building in the United States. It has received many modifications and
many partial reconstructions throughout history.
The technique of shaping mud into bricks was brought to New Mexico by the
Spaniards, who had learned it from the Arabs. The technique of forming an adobe brick
was simple: "a stiff, doughlike mixture of earth and water was packed into a rectangular
frame of wood which was then lifted off, leaving the mud on the ground to dry." Later this
method was used extensively by the Indians.''
Early Spanish adobe style was much like that of the Pueblo Indians: thick earth, or
occasionally stone walls, with flat earth roofs, laid over ceiling beams of peeled logs, or
vigas. Spanish people had introduced the technology of forming adobe-a mixture of clay,
sand, water and often straw or other plant fiber-into bricks, that were then sun dried. In
this period, features familar to Spanish Colonial people were also introduced, squared,
hand-adzed roof beams and some simple cabinetwork. There was some free-standing
furniture and some hand carving, and there were decorative paintings which are usually
preserved for churches. ^^
Spanish Colonial buildings have very limited door and window openings because of
security and temperature control. They were usually covered only by pintied wooden
shutters. The floor plans were almost a contiguous sequence of rooms in single file, one
room deep. The width of the rooms is standard at about 15 feet. Unfortunately, there are
no early Spanish houses that have survived to serve as examples.
The Spanish towns were originally enclosed, fortified compounds; the attached houses
themselves defined a larger interior square and opened onto it. The outside wall did not
have any openings, and the entire town was used as large gates into the cental courtyard.
This arrangement provided good defense from outside attackers. The torreon was also one
of the characteristic features: "a usually round, two-story tower explicitiy for the purpose of
final defense. "13
A plaza originally refers to the entire town as a consistent urban type; today, however,
we refer to the enclosed space of a house. For virtually 150 years, every one of the
colonial Spaniards lived in plaza type towns, or sometimes in Indian pueblos themselves,
especially during the nomadic period of the Indians.
The hacienda is another kind of miniature plaza type large farmhouse nearer the
fields, and its plan followed closely on the town type, a string of neighboring rooms
defining a central enclosed space, but on a smaller scale. Four major haciendas are known
to have existed in the Taos Ranchitos area. The Antonio Severino Martinez near
Taos, built in 1827, was equipped with a parapet provided with loopholes above the roof
level fi-om which defenders might fight off Indian attackers''* (see figure 5).
Smaller buildings, in the higher lands, had a little specialized room used for cooking,
eating, living, and sleeping. They shared functions within the same space. There was a
formal room called a sala which had special use and design.
American Period Territorial and Railroad Style
With the addition of New Mexico to the United States, the Territorial period begins in
1846. In Early Architecture in New Mexico, Bainbridge Bunting divides the Territorial
period into three major sections. These are Early (from territorial establishment to the end
of the Civil War) 1848-1865; Middle (the period after the war, when commerce and cultural
integration were flourishing) 1865-1880; and Late (after the arrival of the railroad and its
profusion of imported styles, until statehood) 1880-1912 Territorial Style.
Between 1821 and 1880, with Mexican independence from Spain and the opening of
the Santa Fe Trail, and when the railroad supplanted the Trail, the influence of the West and
American construction techniques started in the region. The Trail facilitated the foundation
of the Territorial style. New building materials such as glass and brick as well as various
technologies were introduced, allowing for technically improved architecture.
Figure 4. Plan of Martinez Hacienda, Taos, N.M.
The Territorial style is identified as a belated extension of the Greek Revival manner,
which had grown on the eastern seaboard and was influential in New Mexico between
1820 and 1850. The most important buildings of the Early Territorial period were located
in the centers of Santa Fe, Las Vegas, and the villages along the Santa Fe Trail. The
characteristics of this style were the pedimental lintel, used over doors and windows, and
the use of window glass, by then available. During this period, the construction was
widely adapted to older, existing single-file Spanish and Mexican period houses, probably
for many reasons. First, the larger size of windows and doors made better the confort of
the native architecture, as far as lighting and ventilation were concerned. Secondly, "the
imagery was somehow appropriate. Pioneer images of culture and progress were
materialized in noe-Greek architecture." Thirdly, the new style could be beautiful. From
today's point of view, it would have to be considered a very winning formulation.'^
There are three specific conuibutions to the development of Territorial architecture;
window glass, milled lumber, and brick. Another key development in Territorial
architecture was the establishment of sawmills in many areas, originally to service army
needs. Therefore, lumber became commercially available, but was sparingly used up until
the late 19th century. The use of milled wood was in the j)eriod involving door and
window frames and cases, detailed porch woodwork, and framing for pitched roofs.
The picthed-roof form was introduced during this period. It had been used on pre-
Civil War buildings in the rural mountain areas where wood was plentiful. The shape of
the roof depends both on elevation of the areas because of climate and on wood material.
Thus in lower elevations flat roofs of earth construction are still used. On the other hand,
in northern higher-elevation areas, hipped and gabled roofs gained widespread popularity.
This type of roof provided significant insulating and waterproofing improvements over
earlier construction. "Pitched roofs were framed with milled lumber and surfaced with
sawn boards in a lapped pattern, like board and batten or with split shingles." In some
places, wood-frame pitched roofs were often added directly over existing flat earth roofs.
The purpose of adding this roof was to shed water, which quickly compromises any form
of earth construction. In the region, the pitched roof was well adapted and was a
characteristic feature of an established sub-regional style. The old plaza of Chimayo is an
excellent example of "attached buildings in this genre, containing, a beautiful array of folk-
territorial detail."'^
Doorways and windows were other features that witnessed substantial changes during
the Territorial period, both in their detail execution and in their contribution to overall
architectural intent. The earlier doors and windows had been minimal. They were rather
random holes in walls-perhaps with a hand-adzed door-however, they were more likely
covered with textiles or hides. They did not become prominent elements of a composed
facade. There was a symmetry, and this was reflected in new developments in floor plans,
carrying the focus of a central door into a central hall. Interior and exterior window and
door casings were quite simple, distinguished more by their contrasting paint than by
classic "correctness."^^
The Portal or Porch was used in this period, but Pueblo Indian and Spanish
architecture had already produced a colonnaded portal or porch, although there were some
distinctions between the earlier columns and those of the Territorial period. Before, the
columns of the porch had been executed with round logs and usually some form of capital
detail. During the Territorial period, columns were square cut, often with "chamfered
comers, and applied moldings, completed the effect of a simple, usually vaguely Doric,
capital." 18
Brick kilns were introduced during the early years of the Territorial period in Las
Vegas, Santa Fe, and Albuquerque. This was a third key element of the style because of
"the dentiled brick copings capping the parapet wall. Flat stones were placed on the top of
the wall to reduce erosion. Erosion at the top of the adobe walls had been a continuing
problem for adobe architecture"^^ (see figure 6).
Brick was sometimes used as construction material in the entire walls, and though
more permanent, it was considered more costiy than adobe. However, most buildings
continued to be built with adobe walls, if not roofs. There was a transition in many
buildings' appearance from mud plaster to the walls painted to look like brand-new red
brick. The walls of new buildings were built with adobe in the Territorial style because the
adobe walls were an important part of architecture.
Compared to the Colonial period, this era had a great variety of building types, even if
not of construction methods. The residential building continued to dominate construction
activity. In addition, "a new type of floor plan was introduced in the Territorial
period,witcentral hall, and a generally more complex spatial order than earlier regional
models." The "one-dimensional" row of rooms becomes a two-dimensional network.
Speaking of a variety of configurations, "L,T,U or completely enclosed placita, the
traditional plan had been seldom more than one room deep." This plan was symmetrical
based on a central hall or room^^ (see figure 7).
The interiors of Territorial buildings were more elaborated than those of previous
types. They were better illuminated and better ventilated, and more articulated-and
perhaps functional-in zone. With the new technology and materials, the ceiling beams
were square, and a wood floor replaced the earth. Among numerous advantages were
finished cabinetwork and door and window casing and shutter. The regional architecture
focuses largely on adobe style, which forms the backbone of New Mexico's architecture.
However, there were some other buildings in the state which were similar in style and
technology to those found in other eastern or midwestem towns, including a large number
of eclectic and revival movements of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, these had been
identified as the Railroad Style.
^ .
Figure 6. The Ortiz Houses built in the late 1700's. It has been altered with
Territorial features in Santa Fe.
[ iQ.ig' JZ'-I]^ 12'-.3' J :>|7*|, US'-H' j2'-i\ o' - 4' 4-
Figure 7. The new type of plan with central hall and doubling of rooms is due to
influence of Greek Revival movement.
The railroad anived in New Mexico-Las Vegas in 1879 and Santa Fe and
Albuquerque in 1880. Therefore, it was an economical high-speed bridge to eastern goods
and ideas. Things which were fashionable in the East later became fashionable in New
Mexico. New people, materials, technology, and stylistic directions came to the region,
and they made an unforgettable impact. The earlier-period Mexican plaza adapted quite
neatiy to become a more American town square.
During this period, historic buildings that had regional characteristics were altered to
incorporate elements borrowed from "non-indigenous or non-period sources." The
historical architecture included a Spanish Colonial shell. Territorial Greek Revival windows
and doors, some Victorian interior trim, and a Spanish Colonial Revival colonnaded
portal. This was a part of New Mexico's architectural history that revealed a freely adapted
use of style and technology (see figure 8).
Many architectural styles arrived with the raikoad, including Gothic and Romanesque
Revivals, Italianate Bracketted Victorian, Queen Anne, Second Empire Mansard, Greek
and Georgian Revivals, Columbian Exposition Neoclassic, the gambrel-roof Dutch
Hudson River Style, the Prairie Style, and American Craftsman and, from the West,
Mission and Spanish Baroque Revival and the Bungalow.21 Form these architecture
styles, adobe structures adapted more features. The variety of building types offered
appropriate new design ideas to alter adobe stmctures.
Revival Stvle
From the beginning of the 20th century up to the present day, the revival of regional
styles has had a strong impact on Southwestern architecture. The sources for the
Southwest Revival style were basically Peublo-Spanish, Spanish Mission, and Territorial.
Figure 8. Territorial style adobe building on Canyon Road, Santa Fe. Neo-
classical columns and portal, exterior woodwork painted white, and
burnt bricks on top of adobe walls.
Both Pueblo-Spanish and Territorial have continued in popular use to the present day.
Some of the Revival style buildings reveal an appreciation of the true historic artifact.
Pueblo Revival (Santa Fe Style) can also be termed "Adobe Revival" because the basic
theme of this style was to keep the popularity of adobe architecture from the past in a
regionalist manner.
The popularity of Pueblo and Spanish styles of building has continued into the 20th
century, and they are still in practice today where "folk," do-it-yourself architecture
survives. In the early part of this century, the present day Pueblo Revival style or Adobe
Revival-style was used. This style became widely popular, chiefly among the non-native
Anglo people looking for something in demonstratively "regional" taste. The distinction
between a traditional Pueblo-Spanish building and a Pueblo Revival building depends on
the point of view and cultural background of the one who is doing the building, and to a
degree, on the complexity, amenity, and modernity of the plan.
Pueblo Revival style is also called the Santa Fe style. Defined in 1904-1921, the
purpose of the style was twofold:[l] To awaken local interest in the preservation of the Old
Santa Fe and the development of the New along the lines most appropriate to this country.
[2] To advertise the unique and unrivalled possibilities of the city as "THE TOURIST
In many villages and Indian pueblos and even with small owner-built homes in larger
communities such as Santa Fe, Taos and Albuquerque, the ancient Pueblo-Spanish-style
adobe construction continued to be the popular building method all through the 19th
century and on into the 20th century. Some of these Adobe Revival-style buildings were
not built with real adobe material, but they were imitative of adobe architecture from the
past with their facades and massive pueblo appearances. Parallel with this surviving
building tradition, a true revival of the style in New Mexico began on the University of
New Mexico campus in Albuquerque with the construction of the Central Heating Plant
(1905-06). This was followed by Kwataka and Hokona Halls (1907). Hodgin Hall was
remodeled from its original 1890 Richardsonian Romanesque manner into a Pueblo-
Spanish style building in 1908-09. Later, the restoration of the Palace of the Governors in
Santa Fe helped to spur onward the popularity of the revival. Between 1909 and 1945 the
style was the most prominent for all buildings in Santa Fe, from private houses to
churches, from the Fine Arts Museum (1917) to the La Fonda Hotel (1920), the Laboratory
of Anthropology (1931) (see figure 9), the New Mexico School for the Deaf (1935) and the
National Park Service Headquarters (1939), and also the Sagebmsh Inn at Taos (1927).
Most of Santa Fe's finest Pueblo-Spanish-style buildings date from the period between
World Wars I and II.
The architectural characteristics of this style were derived from earlier antecedents,
which featured massive adobe brick walls with projecting vigas and rounded parapets,
interpenetrated with roof drains (canales), exposed wood lintels over inset doors and
windows, and portals with round columns and corbels. Pueblo-Spanish Revival has a
massive, archless, irregular look with the set-back upper stories and flat roofs of the
traditional Indian community house. Taos Pueblo was obviously a major inspirational
source. Also, squat towers derived from early Franciscan mission churches are
occasionally seen on larger public and commercial buildings.
WTiether built of adobe brick or concrete block, in all cases the appearance of the
structure must be that of an adobe brick building. Stucco with a smooth but uneven hand-
applied look is universal. Facades and building comers often have rounded stuccoed
buttresses, again for visual effect only. High, thick round-topped stuccoed walls with
emphasized wooden gates enclose rear, side, or firont patios. This revival continues today,
but changing economic realities within the construction industry have had a strong effect on
the buildings completed since the end of World War II.
Figure 9. Laboratory of Antropology, Santa Fe, Administration and Research
Rising labor and material costs resulted in buildings that are generally flatter, thinner,
and without the variety or hand-worked detailing. The buildings must be put up faster, and
in proportion, at less cost. Wood studs have replaced adobe brick for most homes because
adobe had gone fi-om "dirt-cheap" to very expensive. The resultant walls are flatter and
smoother with an obviously fake batter at the parapet and at the comers. The viga ends
which project through the wall are frequently simple log stubs attached to the outer surface
The second of the regional revival styles was the Mission Revival. "Typical features
of the style include large flat walls with isolated, complex detail, arches, towers and
symmetrically curvilinear gables as monumental frontispieces. Exterior walls are often
painted white or a bright pastel color, unlike the earth-tones of the Spanish-Pueblo and
Territorial Revivals. "24
There was a lack of sculptural ornamentation, which distinguishes the Mission Revival
from buildings of the later Spanish Colonial Revival style. Many Mission Revival features
were also characteristic of the Spanish Colonial Revival: red-tiled roofs of low pich, semi-
circular arches, and balconies. But cast and carved ornament, many times with
considerable elaboration, was common to this Revival style, while the arches were not so
nearly universal. Doorways were enriched with side pilasters or columns. Balconies had
wood or wrought iron railings, and windows were commonly covered with grills of tumed
wood spindles or wrought iron. The plans of houses took many forms and involved either
one or two stories. Many times, it is difficult to classify certain buildings within one of the
two styles. However, many small one-story houses were classified as Spanish Colonial
because of the later date of their construction.25
The third of the major regional-type Revival styles is Territorial. The Territorial
Revival style was used for major public buildings-the present State Capital Complex is the
major expression-as well as for commercial and residential construction. The Santa Fe
Territorial Revival style made full use of all of its earlier components except one, the metal
pitched roof.
In this style, the Greek Revival details in the wood window and door frames with
pediment lintels were repeated. The brick parapet coping and the square portal post remain
characteristic. Stuccoed walls were universal on the residential structures but rarely with
the adobe brick. There was one new feature: the flat roof was allowed to overhang the
walls and to have a wood facia without any parapet. This feature was used almost
exclusively in residential constmction. Perhaps the most important pre-World War II
building in Santa Fe was the Supreme Court building designed by Gordon F. Street and
built in 1936-3.26 John Gaw Meem was a master of Pueblo Revival, many of his later
institutional and residential projects were in the manner of Territorial Revival.
In conclusion, tiiere are in the Southwest three fundamental cultural traditions from the
historical and sociological standpoints :
[1]. The culture shared by Pueblo societies, despite their difference, many
aspects of which have been adopted by the Navajo and Apache over the
course of almost six centuries of interaction through acculturation.
[2]. The old-family Hispanic culture, rooted in the age of discovery of the
"New World," its conquest and colonization in the name of God and King,
coinciding with the Counter-Reformation and the revival of Scholasticism in
sixteenth-century Iberia.
[3]. Northwest European, predominantly English, German, and French,
after immigration to the Atiantic coastal regions of northern North America
at the time of the westem European "Enlightenment" with all its implications
for new ways of thinking theologically, philosophically, and scientifically
and for reordering political and socioeconomic institutions.27
From the ancient tradition up to the present, there has been an important architectural
heritage in northern New Mexico. Indian people built their shelters with adobe material the
"puddle adobe" way, by hand. Adobe was the material to which they could give form
without using any other tools; they did not have metal tools to trim stone or wood. Adobe
was also a material which needed minimal heating and cooling. After the 16th century,
Spanish people came to the region. They took this building tradition from the Indian
people but they brought with them new adobe brick techniques. They learned these
techniques from tiie Moorish people and carried them all the way from Spain with them.
These techniques resulted in the present adobe brick. Adobe was a mixture of water, sand,
clay, and straw or any other kind of organic materials. This mixture was put into a
rectangular frame of wood and was left on the ground to dry. Later, Anglo people came to
the region in 1"848 and they took this same tradition from the Indian and Spanish peoples.
But with the American period, there were some new materials available in the region such
as glass and brick. Despite these developments, adobe was still the common building
material. This was the material regionally available, and it was cheap for poor New
Mexican people. Therefore, adobe is one of the most ancient building materials compared
with others in the region. Adobe as a building material is not only economical, but is also
suitable for the climatic conditions. And in keeping with the building traditions from the
past, it is a cultural inheritance from ancient times.
"IBuildings] belong partly to those who built them and partly to those
generations of mankind who will follow them."
John Ruskin
Today, adobe building methods used in northem New Mexico during the 16th century
are still employed. Adobe bricks shrink and swell constantly with their changing water
content; because they are not fired in a kiln-as are clay bricks-they remain unstable.,
their strength fluctuates witii their water content. Therefore, whether built in the 16th
century or in the 20th century, adobe buildings share common problems of maintenance
and deterioration. When the techniques and methods used for restoration and repairs are as
similar as possible to the techniques used in the original constmction, preserving and
rehabilitating a deteriorated adobe building is most successful. This chapter discusses the
causes of adobe deterioration, the preservation problems, and the rehabilitation and
preservation and stabilization of adobe stmctures.
Earth, used as sun-dried adobe bricks, is the oldest known building material. More
than half of the world's population lives in some form of earth building today. From the
time that the first earth building was built, the preservation and maintenance of such
buildings has been a matter of concern both for the builders and for the people who live in
Adobe consists of tiiree elements: caliche or clay; sand or fine gravel for compressive
strength; and straw, horsehair, grasses, pine needles, or other organic fiber, primarily as an
agent to prevent cracking during curing. The proportions of these elements are generally
about 20-30% clay, 50-60% sand or fine gravel, 3% straw or fiber, and 17% water.'
Maintenance of the original proportion is essential for the preservation of structures built of
The residents of Santa Fe watched the erosion of the traditional environment and the
loss of the distinctive character of Santa Fe. They could see that another generation of
progress of the kind the community had just experienced would totally eliminate the Santa
Fe that they cared for. They also realized that if the city became "midwestemized," it
would lose its attraction for tourists, a significant factor, for the tourist attraction had
become an important part of the city's economy. What could be done to save what was
left, and who would do it?
For a long time Santa Fe and Taos were isolated from other stales. However, later
Santa Fe had access of a sort to the outside world over the Santa Fe Trail, a trader's trace
mnning from Westpost on the western border of Missouri to the Rio Grande, over a
division of the Camino Real through Albuquerque to El Paso, thence to Chihuahua and
several westward-bearing trails to the Pacific Coast.2 Therefore, this isolated ancient
culture attracted both Spanish and later American people. Indeed, "the quality of the
prehistoric art and architecture demonstrates these early people's fascination with their
powerful milieu; they found civilization older than that of Europe, and there is the sense of
an illimitable past and an archaic past, still alive and mling the ether."3
At the beginning of the 20th century, many people became interested in this prehistoric
art and architecture. Carlos Vierra was one of them. Vierta, a founder of the Santa Fe
colony, emerged to preserve existing old style buildings and to urge that new buildings
reflect the historic mode. Carlos Vierra remained a resident of Santa Fe for the rest of his
life. He painted landscape and historical subjects; he was fascinated with adobe-stmcture
mission churches and public buildings. He came to be called the "scenic architect," and
was a passionate advocate for preserving and restoring old- style adobe buildings. Vierta
also develop the theme "City Different.'"^
Dr. Edgar Lee Hewett, a native of Illinois, had come to live in Santa Fe before 19(X),
the first person to conduct excavations scientifically in the Southwest. Hewett was the
prime mover in 1907 in founding the School of American Archaeology, whose activities
later made Santa Fe the center for archaeological investigation all over the North American
continent. Under this school, the Palace of Governors was remodeled to serve as its
headquarters as well as to function as a museum.
Among the other pioneering people who first moved toward preservation of the city
were Sylvanus Morley (an archaeologist), Jesse Nusbaum (an archaeologist), and Frank
Springer (a lawyer). Others included Paul A. F. Walter (the perennial treasure of the
Southwest), and Kenneth and Kate Chapman (Kenneth was an authority on Indian pottery,
and Kate was the first person who specialized in the restoration of old adobe houses), as
well as Dan Kelly, a merchant; Carlos Vierra, the painter-photographer who had
systematically photographed the pueblos; I. H. Rapp, an architect; and Dr. Frank Mare of
The first preservation movement was undertaken by these leaders and later some new
people decided to preserve the colonial churches in the region because by 1920, almost all
of the colonial churches had deteriorated dangerously. In addition, a group of Denver
citizens who visited New Mexico tried to help in the preservation of these churches. The
leader of these people was Miss Anne Evans, who raised funds with John Gaw Meem's
assistance. Among other people in this group were Mary Austin, Dan Kelly, Paul Walter,
Dr. Frank Mare, and Carlos Vierta. Together they set up an infonnal organization called
"the Committee for the Preservation and Restoration of New Mexico Mission Churches,
die CPRNMMC."6 The committee faced a formidable task indeed.
Preservation Prn^l^m*^
The problem foremost in the concem of preservationists of adobe stmctures is the
erosion of mud walls from rainfall. Another big problem is the deterioration of material by
water other tiian rainfall. There are several other common sources of deterioration.
Structural Damage: There are many common stmctural problems in adobe buildings,
and it is easy to see the result of these problems but not their causes. Several of these
problems originated with design or construction, insufficient foundation, weak or
inadequate materials, or the effect of wind, water, snow, and earthquakes. The sign of
stmctural problems in adobe buildings is cracks in walls, foundations, and roofs. In many
cases, cracks are readily visible in adobe, but their causes may be difficult to
Water-Related Problems: There are two sources of water problems, rainwater and
ground water. Successful stabilization, restoration, and the ultimate survival of an adobe
building depend on how effectively a stmcture sheds water. The erosion action of
rainwater and the following drying out of adobe roofs and parapet walls can cause furrows,
cracks, deep fissures, and pitted surfaces to form in the wall surface. Rain-soaked adobe
loses its coherent strength and sloughs off, forming rounded comers and parapets.
Rainwater can destroy adobe walls and roofs, causing their continued deterioration and
eventual collapse.
Ground water may be present during the spring due to a high water table, improper
drainage, seasonal water fluctuations, excessive plant watering, or changes in grade on
eitiier side of the wall. Ground water causes the adobe to erode, bulge, and cove. When
water rises from the ground into the wall, the bond between the clay particles in the adobe
brick breaks down. In addition, the adobe is damaged by dissolved minerals and salts
brought up from the soil by water^ (see figure 10).
Figure 10. Water, wind, animal, insect, and vegetation damage of the adobe wall.
The most common deterioration sources of the adobe stmcture follow;
[ 11 Basal erosion is a kind of coving at the base of a wall and usually occurs in the
direction of the outside or exterior of the building. Widespread erosion is a serious
problem which has to be addressed to guarantee preservation of the adobe wall. The
causes of basal erosion are tunneling by rodents, ground water, direct splash, and soluble
[2] Surface erosion is uniform over the entire wall area; however, it is generally
cosmetic in concern and much less serious than basal erosion. Surface erosion is a
significant factor in buildings requiring preservation in perpetuity and it needs to be
cortected, but for the individual homeowner it is much less serious. The sources of surface
erosion are wind-driven abrasives, insects, mnning water, and internal moisture.
[3] Cracks and bulges in walls are usually noticed first and cause the greatest concem.
A crack can be vertical, horizontal, or diagonal. The two portions of the wall on each side
of the crack may be moving apart (a tension crack), moving together, or sliding against
each other. The type of the crack should be determined, as well as whether the crack is
"active," or currently moving, because an inactive crack is much less serious than an active
one. The causes of cracks and bulges are external loading, internal wall moisture (from
above or below), increased compressive loading, and earth movement.
[4] Failure of protective surfaces treatment is distressing, but rarely more than that.
The rate of erosion of an unprotected horizontal surface in the Southwest is approximately
one inch in 20 years. Mud, lime plaster, and cement stucco have been traditional
productive coatings during this century. They provide protection against surface erosion.
The only problem arises when these coatings conceal deterioration which is occurring
behind the coating. The causes of failure of protective surfaces are wind-driven abrasives,
running water, insects, and internal moisture.
[5j Upper-wall displacement: the problem of a leaning wall should be considered
extremely serious if the center third falls outside of the wall mass at ground line, a fact
which can be determined by dropping a plumb line fi-om the top of the wall. Wall collapse
is the ultimate deterioration effect of upper-wall displacement; however, it actually seldom
occurs and not before one or more of the other factors of decay has had a destmclive effect.
The causes of upper-wall displacement are wall moisture, external loading, and earth
The water-related processes are wet-dry cycles, freeze-thaw cycles, capillary rise, and
condensation. When a wall is affected by water, this effect is normally not constant, which
leads to a wet-dry cycle. Often the length of this cycle can be important. Basal erosion and
surface erosion are related to the presence of soluble salts. These salts are usually either in
the ground or in the clay within the adobe bricks themselves. In a wet wall, the salts move
to the surface, where the water dries; the salts left from the water expand as they crystallize,
destroying the surface of the wall.
Rehabilitation and Preservation of Adobe Stmctures
The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Historic Preservation Projects has
standard definitions for "preservation," "restoration," "rehabilitation," and "stabilization."
Preservation. Means the act or process of applying measures designed to
affect the physical condition of a property by defending or guarding it from
deterioration, loss, or attack, or to cover or shield the property from danger
or injury. For buildings and stmctures, such treatment is generally of a
temporary nature and anticipates future historic preservation treatment; in the
case of archaeological sites, the protective measure may be temporary or
Rehabilitation. Means the act or process of retuming a property to a state of
utility through repair or alteration that makes possible an efficient
contemporary use while preserving those portions or features of the
property that are significant to its historical, architectural, and cultural
Restoration. Means the act or process of accurately recovering the form and
details of property and its setting as it appeared at a particular period of time
by means of the removal of later work or by the replacement of missing
earlier work.^
The purpose of rehabilitation is to take a deteriorated or under-used resource and turn it
into a viable, working property for the community. Under rehabilitation or under any
preservation treatment there are four mles. The first mle is this: "It is better to preserve
than to repair; it is better to repair than restore; and it is better to restore than to reconstmct."
Usually, as the level of combination drops, the treatment, preservation, repair, restoration,
or reconstmction becomes more drastic. The second mle is this: "If there is a choice, do it
the way it was done originally. Repair should be undertaken with the same material or
with a material of compatible quality.''^^ The third mle is this: it is better to do work in a
way that could be preserved. When a mistake is made, it cannot be reversed. Therefore,
what can be done? Rule number four is to save everything. Concerning the last mle, the
weakest material is going to deteriorate first. Therefore, a soft material cannot be preserved
with a harder one. A typical example is the use of hard mortars with adobes,
continued wearing away of the softer mud leaves a lattice of mortar behind.^ ^
The Secretary of the Interior's Standards is a guide for certified rehabilitations, and
inherent in the federal grant process are general standards with which all preservationists
should be familiar:
[1] Every reasonable effort shall be made to provide a compatible use for a
property which requires minimal alteration of the building, structure, or site
and its environment, or to use a property for its originally intended purpose.
[2] The distinguishing original qualities or character of a building,
stmcture, or site and its environment shall not be destroyed. The removal
or alteration of any historic material or distinctive architectural features
should be avoided when possible.
[3] All buildings, stmctures, and sites shall be recognized as products of
their own time. Alterations that have no historical basis and which seek to
create an earlier appearance shall be discouraged.
[4] Changes which may have taken place in the course of time are evidence
of the history and development of a building, stmcture, or site and its
environment. These changes may have acquired significance in their own
right, and this significance shall be recognized and respected.
[5 Distinctive stylistic features or examples of skilled craftsmanship which
characterize a building, structure, or site shall be treated with sensitivity.
[6] Deteriorated architectural features shall be repaired rather than replaced,
wherever possible. In the event replacement is necessary, the new material
should match the material being replaced in composition, design, color,
textiire, and other visual qualities. Repair or replacement of missing
architectural features should be based on accurate duplications of features,
substantiated by historic, physical, or pictorial evidence rather than on
conjectural designs or the availability of different architectural elements from
other buildings or stmctures.
[7] The surface cleaning of stmctures shall be undertaken with the gentiest
means possible. Sandblasting and other cleaning methods that will damage
the historic building materials shall not be undertaken.
[8] Every reasonable effort shall be made to protect and preserve
archaeological resources affected by, or adjacent to, any project.
[9] Contemporary design for alterations and additions to existing properties
shall not be discouraged when such alterations and additions do not destroy
significant historical, architectural or cultural material, and such design is
compatible with the size, scale, color, material, and character of the
property, neighborhood or environment.
[10] Wherever possible, new additions or alterations to stmctures shall be
done in such a manner that if such additions or alterations were to be
removed in the future, the essential form and integrity of the stmcture would
be unimpaired. ^2
Standards [9] and [10] apply particularly to rehabilitation, recommending that new
additions should be compatible but different. New additions and alterations would
therefore leave unimpaired the significance and integrity of the historical building.
The significance of a building can be determined from at least three perspectives.
Chronology is perhaps the most objective measurement, because the older the element, the
more significant, it is. Artistic value is related to the work of a master or skilled artist or
simply by rare examples of elements that were once very common. The last one, historic
association, can be known through research. The integrity of a building related to the
amount of deterioration present is classified as follows: preserved, in need of repair, in
need of restoration, in need of stmctural stabilization, and element missing in need of
The traditional approach to protection of adobe walls from water has been to coat them
with some type of "waterproofing" material. These materials could be of different types
ranging from a thin paint coating to a thick portland cement stucco. However, ground
water can be harmful despite protective coating because most historic adobe stmctures do
not have adequate waterproof foundations.
A good tight roof with ample positive drainage will do more than anything else to
preserve an adobe structure. This will certainly assist in the decrease of one of the most
severe deleterious effects of water. Many historical stmctures have either inadequate roofs
or no roofs at all. The structures without roofs should be preserved rather than restored.
However, if the existing stmcture has a roof or originally had a roof, the matter of repairing
and reconstmcting the original roof should be considered. Another approach taken is to
provide protection by constmction of a separate high roof over the stmcture.
The ground water and cumulative rainwater on the base of the adobe walls can be
decreased by providing drainage around the wall. The digging of trenches around the
adobe walls and filling them with gravel of sufficient size to prevent the rise of capillary
water could provide the necessary drainage.
The vertical surfaces of adobe walls that exhibit erosion from such elements as water
or sand-laden wind can be protected with surface coating or surface impregnation materials
or by replacing eroded adobe with new adobe. The replacement of eroded adobe with new
adobe is usually sufficient to preserve the adobe stmcture.
There are four major ways that have been used to protect the vertical surface of adobe
stmctures: [1] stuccoes and plasters; [2] surface coatings; [3] surface impregnation
materials; [4] consolidation materials. Cement stuccoes have been used to protect vertical
surfaces of adobe walls from rainfall. This is an economical better way for adobe
preservation because, in many cases, stuccoes have not been effective in the protection of
adobe from water. The stucco on the adob)e wall soaks up water, and this is usually not
visually apparent on the surface until a portion of the wall collapses. ^3
Different methods developed to upgrade the function of stuccoes include the following:
[1] applying stucco to wire mesh nailed to adobe walls; [2] formulating stuccoes which
are lean in cement and stuccoes with mixed proportions of cement; [3] applying the stucco
to dampened adobe surfaces; and [4] the use of a primer coat prior to application of the
stucco. However, soil-cement mortars seem to be more effective tiian stuccoes. ^'^ Lime
plasters have been applied successfully to adobe walls. If the plaster does not have any
cracks, moisture does not accumulate at the plaster-adobe interface.'5
Surface coatings on adobe walls provide temporary protection and also improve the
appearance of the walls. Different types of surface coatings have been u.sed: oil base,
resin-base and emulsion paints; portiand cement washes and whitewashes; coatings of plant
extracts; and coatings of fresh blood.
Surface impregnation materials are materials that affect the surface layers of adobe
walls to a finite depth and botii "waterproof and consolidate these layers. Usually they are
organic-silicates or organic monomers which are polymerized in situ.
Consolidation materials are those materials which can be intmded into the mass of
adobe stmctures to fill pores, voids, and cracks in the soil matrix. Based on
comprehensive study over 20 years, that "no single chemical or combination of chemicals
have been found acceptable, effective, or economical as a major soil stabilizer."^6
The successful preservation of most historical adobe structures depends on effectively
protecting the stmctures from natural hazards, especially water. The cause of deterioration
at adobe stmctures should be very carefully investigated, because only after this phase is
completed should preservation methods and materials be selected. The preservation of
adobe material is a unique problem; therefore, the selection of preservation materials and
methods for an adobe stmcture should be based on well-designed laboratory and field
investigations. After a preservation process has been finished, its effectiveness should be
observed over a period of time and the results should be thoroughly documented.*^
Stabilization of Adobe
Stabilizing agents can be combined with the adobe soil and water mixture during the
production of adobe building materials to improve the weathering resistance of the product.
Indeed, stabilized adobe bricks are in some cases used as a replacement for deteriorated
adobe in the preservation of historic adobe stmctures. The commonly used stabilizers are
Portland cement, lime, bituminous, asphaltic emulsions, and sand.
Portland cement is an effective stabilizing agent for several adobe soils, for it increases
both their strength and their endurance. For instance, "a 12 % addition, by weight, of
Portland cement to a sandy soil increased the compressive strength by a factor of 5
compared to the unadulterated soil." The unadulterated adobes are less resistant to
weathering, rain damage, and freeze-thaw damage than are the soil-cement adobes. This is
because they shrink more during curing than the soil-cement adobe. ^^
Portland cement can be used to stabilize almost all soils, but soils with higher clay
contents require a higher amount of cement to have enough strength and durability.
Common proportions of cement to soil change from " 1 part cement to 8 to 20 parts of soil.
Amount of mix water depends on the composition of soil and cement and the mix
design." *9
There is one disadvantage in the use of adobe soil cement material for replacing
deteriorated portions in historic stmctures,and that is the difficulty in duplicating the color
and texture of the original adobe. This is a common problem, however, for any type of
stabilizing agent.
Lime is used alone or in combination with portland cement to stabilize adobe. For
effective stabilization of adobe, there should be a 15 % lime addition by weight. But this
amount could be reduced to 10 % by adding 5 % portland cement.
Bituminous and asphaltic emulsions and some other kinds of materials have been u.sed
successfully for years to waterproof adobe. The amount of bituminous and asphaltic
emulsion added is commonly 4 to 8 % by weight of the soil. There are two kinds of
asphaltic emulsions, anionic and cationic. "Some bituminous and asphaltic materials could
be important an objectionable color to adobe brick if they are used for the preservation of
some historic adobe structures."20 Sand can usually be added to soil with high clay
content. The purpose of this process allows adequate properties for adobe production.
The addition of sand will reduce the early age strengths of the adobe; however, the long-
term impact should be small.
There are various other stabilization agents. Among the suggested stabilization agents
are fresh blood and protein, vinyl acetate, sawdust, casein glue, vinsol resin, and aniline.
It seems that adequate stabilization agents are portiand cement, lime, and emulsions.
However, there are three important factors about selecting stabilized adobe for replacing
deteriorated materials: "[I] extent of color and texture duplication between the stabilized
and original adobe; [2] compatibility of the physical properties of the stabilized and original
adobe; and [3] the potential damage to the original adobe caused by using a substitute
which has higher mechanical properties and which is more durable."2l
Usually when the deteriorated part of the old stmcture is replaced with the stabilized
material, this can accelerate deterioration of the rest of the sffucture. For example,
replacing the adobe mortar by joining together an adobe block with an adobe-cement mortar
has often been found to accelerate the deterioration of the adobe brick.
Continual maintenance has always been the key to successful adobe building survival.
After rehabilitation or restoration of a stmcture has been finished, some program of
continuing maintenance should be initiated. Every change in the building should be noted.
Cracking, sagging, or bulging in adobe walls should be monitored regularly.
As a result, one can see that the preservation of historic adobe buildings involves
broad and complex problems. Adobe is a material formed of earth and is only a little
stronger than the soil itself. It is a material whose nature is to deteriorate. Therefore, the
propensity of adobe to deteriorate is the nature of adobe material, an ongoing process.
There are several ways to safeguard the building, but no entirely satisfactory method has
yet been developed. However, for preservation and maintenance of historic adobe
buildings in tiie region, one must [I] "accept the adobe material and its natural
deterioration," [2] "understand the building as a system," [3] "understand the forces of
nature which seek to return the building to its original state."22
"We shape our buildings and tiien afterward they shape us."
Winston Churchill
This chapter discusses the development of residential adobe architecture. The
discussion will be based on three different peoples, Indian Spanish, and American, their
cultures and traditions, and the way of living and giving shape to their house and
environment. Indeed, the architectural styles successfully combine elements from these
cultures: the Pueblo, the Spanish-American, and the Anglo-American. In the region, there
are three different building processes according to the development of architecture. The
development of the adobe houses will be given according to the relevant different cultural
Evolution of Residential Architecture
Residential architecture is a product of feeling and a constituent of the real fabric of
daily life. From primitive society up to today, man has needed a kind of shelter to protect
himself from the environment, fi-om other people, from animals and from weather. As a
result of these needs, the first shelter was a natural cave; and later, when people started
communal life and agriculture, they built permanent buildings. There are three different
building processes apparent in the development of architecture.^
There are many impacts on the forms of a house. Climate is one of the important
influences. According to varying kinds of climate, we can find a variety of house types.
For example, the house with a courtyard was developed for a dry, hot climate. Beside the
factor of climate, building material, constmction technology, site, defense, economics, and
religious and socio-cultural factors are very important impacts determining the form of
houses. Therefore, house form is not simply the result of physical forces or any other
single-cause factor, but " it is the consequence of a whole range of socio-cultural factors
seen in their broadest terms."2
More specifically,basic human needs have given special form to and dwellings
within tiie range of the term "house." The form of plan has been determined by various
basic culture-specific needs: family stmcture, position of women, privacy, and social
intercourse. Every culture gives shape to its houses, its dwellings, under the influence of
all these factors. Therefore, it is easy to understand which houses or dwellings belong to
which social group or nationality.
Around Santa Fe and Taos, the adobe house took its form from three different cultural
backgrounds. During the primitive civilization, the adobe house was a shelter for people in
northem New Mexico. They were Indian people who built their first adobe rooms when
they became an agricultural community. They settied along the Rio Grande because of their
need for water. Later, 16th century Spanish people came to the same area and they taught
the Indian people how to mold adobe into bricks. Besides that, they brought the
Mediterranean and Moorish tradition with them. The Spanish houses bortowed several
elements from the Moorish houses. When the Americans invaded New Mexico, they, too,
introduced new building materials and constmction techniques, but they also continued to
use adobe with their new materials. Thus residential adobe architecture has witnessed a
cumulative architectural process. For example, during the Territorial Period, adobe houses
had larger windows because of the availability of glass, and doors and windows had
triangular pediments.
Today, many buildings in the Spanish Pueblo style strongly remind us of the
dwellings of the Pueblo Indians. Many people including artists and architects and
craftsmen have learned how to imitate the extemal features of Pueblo houses with great
fidelity and taste. The present-day Pueblo Indian house has a distinct similarity to its
prehistoric prototype. The Pueblo Indians themselves have kept alive many traditions
concerning the house and its functions.
The typical Pueblo Indian house before the Conquest days was made out of adobe or
stone or a combination of the two. The house was rectangular, with a flat roof The size
of the room was determined by the length of the roof beams. Many rooms in the older
prehistoric villages were no more than five feet square, but the ceiling was usually seven or
eight feet above the tamped earth floor. There was no outside door. The entrance to the
house (or room) was from a hatchway in the roof that also served as a vent for the smoke.
There were, as a mle, no windows of any size. The inside and outside walls were finished
with a smooth adobe plaster. Without any windows and doors, the house (or room) was a
perfect box. Outside, this box had the ends of the ladder sticking up out of the hatchway.
W^en the Pueblo Indians built their houses, they never intended to erect lasting
monuments. Also they never thought of buildings as works of art and therefore made no
effort to adorn them. They built their houses to satisfy an immediate need, the need of their
own lifetime. Indeed, the simplicity of both form and construction was important for them.
The basic stmctural unit was a boxlike room or a cell in Pueblo Indian architecture-
something that Mindeleff first stated in his remarkable work on Hopi and Zuni architecture
in 1891. In their growing pattern, when they wanted more interior space they built an
adjoining cell, and if more space was needed, a third cell (see figure 11).
The Pueblo Indian building is a collection of individual rooms. A point to note is that
no matter how big or complex the building was,the structure was actually nothing more
than a cluster of cells, each of which was a basic structural unit. For example, the largest
community house, like Taos Pueblo, six stories high and a quarter of a mile long, is a
honeycomb of small rectangular cells or rooms.
Figure 11. Zuni Pueblo, Photograph, 1899, by A.C. Vroman (No. 2293-B in the
National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution).
Each room has been built and owned individually; the result is a large number of boxes
that could be added to or taken away from without the whole structure's being affected in
any significant way. Perhaps we can defend the observation that "Pueblo Indian
architecture is a matter of multiplication of the basic unit"3 (see figures 12 and 13).
The Indian pueblo was built as the basic social unit; therefore, it is impossible to find
one of these Pueblo Indian cells or rooms standing by itself. The basic social unit is rows
or clusters or blocks or several rooms which are built on top of one another. This social
unit was like an apartment except that each room or house was built by its occupant.
There is one distinctive and unifying feature about this apartment house: the religious
building, the "Kiva," was the center of the complex. Mindeleff says that "According to the
account of the old men the kiva was constmcted to enclose a sacred object and houses were
built on every side to surround the kiva and form its outer wall."^
There were therefore social and religious reasons that determined the organization of
tills cluster form of domestic architecture. The cluster of houses existed for one definite
reason: it exists to protect something sacred, a special room, close to it. The growth of this
cluster was related to family stmcture. When a son or a daughter married, the bride was
brought to the parents' house. Therefore, a new room, adjoining tiiat of the parents, was
built for the new couple. Another social reason for building tiie cluster houses was that of
mutual protection: they did not develop a military body, but the windowless and doorless
ground floor of the houses was an important part of their defense.
The house cluster is the basic unit; when a village expands, it will include several such
clusters. These clusters were usually built around one or two squares or plazas.
Sometimes these plazas are enclosed on all four sides by houses; sometimes there are
houses on two sides only. Usually the south side is open. Sometimes the plazas are large
and almost square; sometimes they are so long and narrow that they look like streets.
p \ T Ho o s e
ivvt Pvj cbuo
Figure 12. The evolution of the pit house to the pueblo.
DBf i r vc; c e * A i M6 %Ll . t r l N&

-t Ho%e
Figure 13. Urban forms of historical pueblos.
1. Taos
2. Acoma
There is one tiling about Pueblo plazas that makes them unlike Westem or other plazas:
they have never been used as a place for public announcements or other official purposes.
However, tiie plaza was "a place where people watch the dancers and where the dances
take place; a place where there is a permanent shrine or kiva or religious marker of some
sort. It is a kind of open air room identified with the religious activities of the
clusters surrounding it."^
The first Spanish explorers saw the upper Rio Grande Valley in 1540. The area was a
large mgged plateau with mountain ranges and broad valleys, and with an arid climate, hot
in summer and cold in winter. The land was similar to that of central Spain, which was
home for many of these people. The first Spanish colony was established in 1598, and
later a site on the Santa Fe River was chosen as the new govemmeni capital.
After the Spanish conquest of New Mexico, the Spaniards introduced a new type of
house. When tiiey built in New Mexico, they did not follow tiie multistoried form of the
Pueblo Indian structures in their building. The Spanish people used the traditional house
around a court, as in Spain. A house facing inward to a central patio or atrium surrounded
by a colonnade probably took root in Spain during the period from about 200 B.C - 400
A.D., when Spain was a major Roman colony. The Moors who ruled parts of Spain for
more than 700 years reinforced "the tradition of the courtyard house as a private inward-
facing compound."^
The early Greek and especially Roman literature describe the Meditertanean house as
square, with a flat roof formed by laying logs across from wall to wall, and placing
willows or other small pieces of wood across the logs, and over this plastering layers of
mud which were then allowed to dry, sloping to drains formed of hollow logs. The
interiors of the houses usually had white plaster walls, with floors of flat stones or of dried
mud swept clean. Such a description would also fit the typical New Mexico house of the
16th, 17th, and early 18th centuries. That house was a thick-walled building around one or
more inner courts or patios. All rooms opened onto the inner court, and usually there was
a porch or portal mnning around all four court walls.
This type of house, called a "hacienda," was built in isolation usually without any
outside opening, but with a pair of large, heavy wooden gate like doors, large enough to
ride horses and pull carts through. In towns these haciendas were built along streets, each
house adjoining the next, with the large gate doors opening out to the street^ (see figure
The hacienda type of Spanish Colonial house developed a long time ago around the
Mediterranean area. The plan of the house derived from Ur, Mesopotamia (today Middle
East countries), Anatolia (Turkey), North Africa, and elsewhere within the Muslim culture.
Three main factors determined the plan of such a house: climate, socio-cultural forces, and
the Muslim rehgion. These houses were built one or two stories high around an inner
court. At tiie exterior tiiere were no windows; all the ventilation came from tiie doors to the
court Sometimes tiiere was a colonnaded porch around tiie courtyard. This type of plan is
characteristic of residential stmctures in an arid climate. The court itself is tiie center of
family life, serving for family gathering and as a playground for tiie children^ (see figure
The plan of tiiis house improved and the inner courtyard became richer and more
elaborated after introduction of the Muslim religion. The main objective was the isolating
of women from tiie worid of men but at the same time giving maximum freedom of
movement in tiie women's space, which was the house. Therefore, the house was
definitely separated from the street by high walls which usually surtounded the house.
But inside this wall was a nice and pleasant place to live. Turkish culture with its Muslim
religion developed tiiis house plan, which included ample vegetation and a pool or fountain
in the inner court. The house became a living organism inside.
Figure 14. Hacienda plan. In this hypothetical plan drawn by Bainbridge Bunting,
the placite-centered house is adjoined by a protected cortal and storage
area. Early Architecture in New Mexico (Albuquerque, 1976).
ri i riooi nw
Figure 15. Floor plan of the traditional house from southern Turkey.
There is one similarity between this type of house and the Pueblo Indian house: every
room is a house in itself. When children got married, the family added one more room near
their own room. The arrangement of this growing pattern could be around a court or could
be aligned along just one side of a court or could be of "U" or "L" shape. The plan of the
house was based on a combination of geometry and symmetry (see figure 16).
The general type of the Spanish vemacular adobe house around Santa Fe and Taos
was a single line of rooms one story in height all around a square courtyard or plazuela.
Every room of Si plazuela house had doors onto the courtyard and was protected by a
covered porch or portal along one or two walls. The exterior was stark and boxlike. The
rooms were usually square or rectangular and generally about 13 to 16 feet in the direction
of the span of tiie logs or vigas. The same room usually served as dining, sitting, and
sleeping room. The mattresses of straw or wool were folded during the day and were
placed against the wall for seating. At night they were unfolded for sleeping. Rooms
could be added on or torn down without affecting the spatial organization of the house.
One room might be owned by one family and anotiier room owned by a distantiy related
family. This could describe the way some houses evolved: "Beginning with a single room,
the house grew like a game of dominoes. As each son brought home his bride, he added a
room to one end of the paternal dwelling. Every room had its own outside door, and the
system solved the in-law problem by giving privacy to the married couples of the family "^
Another feature of Spanish Colonial houses was the fireplaces, which developed in
Spain or somewhere else in the Meditertanean area. The fireplaces were usually of the
comer type, simply a smoke-gathering hood above the comer, with a tapering flue through
the roof. The purpose of the fireplaces was to heat spaces with wood.
The Spanish Colonial adobe house of northem New Mexico has been carried forward
to the twentieth century, and has been radically transformed over the years to accept new
influences, meet changing requirements, and utilize modem materials and techniques
J t- ii 11II \
Figure 16. A common L-shaped plan with a single-file of rooms with porch.
All tiiese transformations occurted following the artival of the United States Army in
1846. Thus began tiie period of upheaval and rapid change of tiie colonial way of life in
New Mexico. American influence was slight when the Santa Fe Trail opened in 1821; it
increased after annexation in 1848, and became major after the arrival of the railroad in
1880. Although many of the citizens of New Mexico were not happy with the American
annexation of their homeland, American culture was adopted quickly in the area.
During tiie period of the 1850 through the 1870 in Santa Fe and other prosperous
towns, tiie adobe houses were being "dressed up" with new white American-style
woodwork. These woodwork elements included neoclassical front porches with square
tapered columns, doors and double hung windows cased with milled lumber and capped
with classical pediments, balustrades between the porch columns, and sometimes a picket
fence oudining a front yard.^^
Another difference between tiie Spanish Colonial house and the American-style house
was the setting from the street. "Spanish Colonial houses were usually placed at the very
edge of the street but faced inward toward the courtyard. American-style houses were set
back from the street but were front facing and su*eet oriented." With the American style
setting, the Colonial courtyard house had been turned inside out.^^
American-style houses and Spanish Colonial houses had the same Meditertanean
origin. Both the white neoclassical porch and the Spanish Colonial portal were derived
from the classical Mediterranean peristyle. The monumentality of both houses was
achieved by using large simple geometric forms and oversized architectural elements. The
front door was the focal point, and the facade was well proportioned. Some of the features
of American-style houses were more successful than others. For example, "the second-
story plan was loosely transformed into an attic space with dormer or gable windows."^2
The Territorial style is best typified by the use of a bumt-brick coping at the top of the
parapet walls on homes. The Territorial style was a combination of several elements. The
walls were adobe with the burnt brick firewall or coping. The doors and windows were
either Greek Revival or late Victorian. The adobe walls were usually plastered with a lime-
sand stucco. The beams of the house were often sawmill cut, or adzed, square beams with
sawed or split boards laid over.l3 This style was quite often a remodeling job on an older
house, with brick coping being added and with larger windows cut into the walls,
especially on the street side. The outside portal was added with typical modified Colonial
The Territorial style introduced a new type of plan with a symmetrical organization of
rooms. Double-hung sash windows were common. Window casings were more
elaborate, both inside and out. The interiors of houses were also more elaborate, with
wood floors, and carpeted floors. The ceilings were framed with rectangular beams cut
with crisp bead moldings. ^^
Popularitv of Residential Adobe Architecture
Santa Fe and Taos attracted creative folk during the age of colony building between
1900 and 1942. Nature, the environment, tiie ethnic variety, and culture were the strongest
drawing point. For a long time both Santa Fe and Taos were isolated from other parts of
the country, places where "civilization fell asleep a thousand years agoand has slept
since." The quality of northern New Mexico's social environment was enhanced by its two
ancient townsSanta Fe and Taos. During that time many artists-author immigrants settled
in tiny mountain and canyon villages, but most of them chose Santa Fe and Taos because
they found there both ancient history and natural beauty.
Taos's earth primitiveness-dominating highlands, awesome desert sweeps
broken by the valley's brilliant green of irrigated orchards and comfields,
and quaint earth-molded buildings- and its disparate human and cultural
elements, made it a haven for those immigrants who found even simplistic
Santa Fe too progressive, worldly, and threatening. Its natural and social
environs yielded a pletiiora of unique, colorful, fresh subjects for literary
and artistic interpretation that overpowered many of the emigres. ^ 5
Architectural design became a matter of abiding concem and interest among artists and
authors in the early life of the Santa Fe and Taos colonies. The local architecture was of
Pueblo Indian and Spanish colonial styles. They were both constmcted of adobe, local
clayey soils mixed with water and sun-dried into hard, durable building material. In
addition to its functional application, "an adobe dwelling was imbued with a metaphysical
essence for tiie spiritually motivated, non-materialistic Indians-it symbolized earth as the
mother, with tiie sun as the source of life." Adobe also symbolized the irrefutable
progression of life-"bom from the earth mother, sustained by her during life, and
retuming to her at deatii." ^6
Architects and designers were active in the life both of Taos and of Santa Fe because
Santa Fe and Taos were places where original sources were available for works of art and
architecture works. Both the land itself and ancient cultures held a great deal of potential
for new ideas. Most of these artisans spent the summer in northern New Mexico; a few
settied there. For example, John Gaw Meem settled and became the premier architect of
Santa Fe. The Santa Fe style became more widely accepted and popularized with his
Meem was a man who "used tiie local past but did so with respect for the dignity and
symbolism of indigenous cultures and translation of architectural messages for modern
usage." He reflected tiie Native American architecture with the traditional extended family
lifestyle instead of abandoning tiieir elders to live in isolation or in retirement villages. He
"revered tiie past and adapted it for the present." '"^
His aim was to create contemporary buildings which met contemporary functional
requirements but which used regional elements of traditional design to recall the rich
heritage of Southwestern architecture.
Indeed, he said:
To deprive tiie architect of tiie emotional satisfaction of recalling tiie shapes
and forms associated witii tiie history and tradition of the region in which he
lives is very much like disapproving of nature because she makes a son's
face to recall tiiat of his father. Can it be tiiat we architects of the 20tii
century, in our devotion to tiie standards set by science and technology, are
depriving ourselves of equally important requirements demanded by man's
emotional nature?!^
There is one disappointing thing about Meem's architecture: he did not always use
adobe material for building structures. But he designed buildings witii Pueblo Indian and
Spanish Colonial details. His buildings were an imitation of these styles with
ornamentation and details. For example, his own home was built of stone with his usual
pueblo style. It is hard to tell whether it is an adobe house or not because of the details.
There are many houses built in this manner around Santa Fe and Taos. The walls are
constructed with some other materials, but for finishing stucco is used, and also smooth
walls are finished like adobe, and of course tiie vigas projected outside the walls suggest
Pueblo and Spanish Colonial roots.
Adobe is still a popular building material for housing among Pueblo Indians and
Spanish Americans in northem New Mexico. Adobe is the only material witii which tiiey
can build cheaply and still inhabit comfortably. It is part of tiieir culture and tiieir past.
Therefore, rural houses and Indian Pueblo houses have continued to be built with adobe.
Rural houses are usually built with adobe walls and pitched roofs (see figure 17). The roof
helps to protect the adobe walls from rain. The flat-roof adobe was not known in the rural
part of nortiiem New Mexico except for tiie typical Spanish-American rural dwellings in
the Southwest. 1^
Behind contemporary residential adobe architecture around Santa Fe and Taos, there
Ue tiiree different reasons: First, adobe is a traditional building material for Pueblo Indians
and Spanish Americans and it is also economical for them to use adobe for tiieir home.
i5i^ %
Figure 17 Tliis is a classical example of rural pitched roof adobes in Truchas.
Second, it is a part of the romantic movement and rediscovery of ancient history and
architecture. Third, adobe is economical for energy saving with solar heating and for being
thermal, cool during the summer and warm during the winter.
Pueblo architecture has the most tangible manifestation of the spirit. The pueblos are
"an example of a simple, spontaneous life spent in harmony with nature and in touch with
elemental forces." According to Carlos Vierra, "tiie weathering of adobe by the elements
was in large part responsible for this organic quality: That which was not essential did not
endure, and that which did endure was marvelously enriched with the living, flowing
quality of free outiine and form. It is in realty a free-hand architecture, with the living
quality of a sculptor's work."20
After 1920, there was individual engagement with the Pueblo and Spanish cultures,
among a group of Santa Fe painters who built their houses together during the 1920's. The
manifestation of the romantic spirit has been the artist's house. The finest examples of the
type were built by Nicolia Fechin in Taos and Carlos Vierra in Santa Fe2l (see figure 18).
During the 1950's and 1960's, northem New Mexico again continued to attract
sympathetic artists and architects by its "romantic regionalism." At that time, economic
self-sufficiency was part of the new residential architecture. Architect William Lumpkins
and Peter van Dresser were early proponents of passive-solar design. Van Dresser built a
passive solar house with adobe constmction and Pueblo detailing in Santa Fe in 1958 (see
figure 19).
Residential adobe architecture is popular around Santa Fe and Taos because individual
houses express personality in a rich variety of visual forms. Adobe buildings are a part of
their environment and of nature. The houses represent a comprehensive link between the
past and the future. An adobe building itself is an abstract, a gestural, a geometric and a
symbolic figure.
Figure 18. Carlos Vierta House built in 1915, Santa Fe.
Figure 19. Van Dresser House, Santa Fe, was built in 1958.
Today people still build adobe houses, because for some it is a part of their heritage
and for others it is a syntiiesis between "traditional" and "modem" techniques. Each
individual has his own reason for building an adobe house. For example, Barbara and
Cliff Harmon built their house in Taos in 1950. During the adobe brick making process
and constmction, tiiey got help from local Spanish people. The house has pueblo Indian
walls and Califomian interior details. They are botii artists and they love Taos and its
ancient art and architecture. Barbara describes her house as "a growing process, a living
and an organic stmcture." She also said tiiat a adobe house has a poetic It is an
architectural symbol of "primitiveness," although both rich and poor use adobe to build
their houses. Adobe houses are living sculpture, today, because the builders of the house
incorporate their own spirit in the building.
In conclusion, there are three different building processes which reflected in the
development of residential adobe architecture. These are primitive, pre-industrial
vemacular, and high-style and modem. In northem New Mexico, "primitive" represents
Indian Pueblo adobe constmction-very few building types, a model with few individual
variations, built by all. "Pre-industrial" is Spanish-American-more individual variations of
the model, built by tradesmen. "High-style and modem" is Anglo American-each building
being an original creation designed by teams of specialists.22 However, there is one thing
about architecture that has been consistent from 7(X) down to the present: a basic unity has
persisted because of the modular method of building. The differences among the three
cultures were primarily a matter of tiie arrangement of the units in the modules.
"The language is the old language, and yet it is new..."
Benedetto Croce
Today adobe is one of tiie major building materials in New Mexico. From the U.S.
Bureau of Census reports, Gerbrant and May (1986) calculated that in 1850, 97% of the
homes were adobe; in 1980, only 12% of the homes were adobe. During this period, the
number of adobe dwellings increased from 13,050 to an estimated 59,500 adobe units, but
during tiie same period, the population increased from 61,546 to 1,299, 968. Based on
U.S. Bureau of Census reports (1986), it is estimated that 3% of the new homes built in
New Mexico during the 1970's were adobe. Today, adobe bricks continue to be produced
in Indian and Spanish-American communities. The majority of adobe bricks are used to
constmct large scale, expensive homes throughout the state. Anglo-Americans produced
mostly pressed-earth blocks for commercial purposes; however, they also have experience
with traditional adobe. ^
This chapter discusses adobe brick production and manufacturing techniques in New
Mexico. The use of adobe by the Pueblo Indians, the Spanish, and the Anglo-Americans
has resulted in a native architecture that is a unique aspect of New Mexico. Historically and
up to the present day. New Mexico has remained the largest manufacturer and user of
adobe bricks in the United States.
Production of Adobe Bricks
The procedures of production are classified as small-, medium-, or large-scale
manufacturing. Three major types of adobe bricks are produced in New Mexico-
traditional, semistabilized, and stabilized, according to the New Mexico Bureau of Mines &
Mineral Resources research.
The selection of adobe soils is one of the most important parts of adobe production
because tiie quality of adobe bricks depends on tiie soil type. The most suitable adobe soil
is found in New Mexico's Rio Grande basin area that extends from Colorado to the Texas
border. This soil consists of roughly 55-75% sand and 25-45% finer material, usually
composed of equal parts of silt and clay.2
A good agricultural soil is not suitable for adobe bricks because of its mineral and
organic matter. Generally, soils which are poor for crop production are more satisfactory
for making adobes. Adobe brick soil must contain four elements: "coarse sand or
aggregate, fine sand, silt, and clay." The amount of clay in the adobe soil is important
because too much clay will cause excessive shrinkage during the drying process, and
cracks will then develop. The soil structures high in clay may be much more resistant to
water and erosion but are not as strong. The sand provides strength; however, too much
sand will result in bricks that cmmble easily. Many adobe brick makers blend together two
or more otherwise unsuitable soils to produce a mixture with the desired properties for use
in adobe bricks.
There are several advantages to the use of adobe as a constmction material as follows:
[1] Adobe is a native material that is widely available throughout tiie state at
little or no cost to individuals willing to produce their own adob>e bricks.
[2] Adobe bricks were reasonably priced in 1980, averaging 26.6 cents for
a traditional 10xl4x4-inch adobe for those wishing to purchase bricks from
a local adobe yard.
[3] Adobes are adaptable to most types of new housing constmction
including solar-designed buildings and certain types of commercial
[4] Test results as noted in the section on physical properties show that the
majonty of adobes meet the Uniform Building Code and the New Mexico
State Building Code for strengtii and durability.
[5] Buildings of adobe are fire resistant, unaffected by termites, and good
sound insulators.
[6]. Traditional, semistabilized, and stabilized adobe bricks have excellent
durability and resistance to erosion by wind and sandstorms, thus requiring
littie maintenance.
[7] Semistabilized and stabilized adobe bricks are resistant to penetration
and degradation by water and, because tiiey remain so dry, provide an
especially comfortable and healtiiy thermal environment.
[8] The traditional adobe stmcuire, coated with a protective cement scratch
cover and stucco, is fully protected against excessive wear and weather. A
well maintained traditional adobe building, plastered with nothing but adobe
mud, can also be extremely durable as is demonstrated by the 9(X)-years-old
Taos Pueblo buildings and tiie over 300 years of continuous governmental
use of the Palace of the Govemors building in Santa Fe.3
There are several adobe production methods. These include the making of traditional
adobe bricks, semistabilized adobe bricks, stabilized adobe bricks, terrones, quemados,
pressed-earth blocks, and rammed-earth walls. This discussion will cover first the three
major production techniques.
The traditional adobe brick is made with soil composed of a homogeneous mixture of
clay, sand, and silt. Sometimes straw is added to prevent the brick from cracking when
curing. Traditional adobe can be found in the majority of cities, villages, and pueblos.
There are two ways to protect adobe stmctures. One method is to use a simple adobe mud
mixture which usually requires periodic application. Sometimes such a mixture lasts longer
with wire mesh and cement stucco. Another solution is provided by owners of adobe
stmctures who have added a pitched tin or cormgated iron roof with overhang to protect the
adobe roof and walls from erosion. In this way the durability of traditional adobe bricks is
well maintained."*
To avoid the cold winter climate of New Mexico, the adobe makers produce their
adobe in the warm summer months and stockpile for a certain quantity of building projects
which will be under construction in the winter or early spring months. This also gives an
opportunity to the commercial adobe producer to raise adobe brick prices.^
Semistabilized adobe brick is the most widely produced brick in the region. The name
is derived from tiie practice of adding a small amount of stabilizer to the adobe mixture to
make water-resistant bricks. However, semistabilized brick is made the same way as
traditional brick except that a 2-3% amount of asphalt emulsion is added.^
Fully stabilized adobe brick is referted to as "treated adobe" by the New Mexico
Building Code. The mixture of fully stabilized adobe brick includes a 5-12% asphalt
emulsion added to help to produce water-resistant adobe bricks for commercial use.
Stabilizers: The purpose of adobe stabilizers is to increase the weather resistance of the
adobe brick. The stabilizers are mixed in the basic soil of adobe brick to produce
waterproof bricks. Although twenty different materials are used as stabilizers, the most
common are 1989 the following: sand, straw, portland cement, lime, and bituminous and
asphalt emulsion. Asphalt emulsion is widely used by the large-scale commercial adobe
brick producers in New Mexico to protect the bricks from drying in adobe production yards
during intense rains.^
Stabilizing of adobe bricks can offer certain advantages. According to a Califomia
Research Corporation report, these advantages include the following:
[1] Resistant to penetration and degradation of water: "Stabilized adobe bricks are
repellent to moisture from all sources, including rain, fog, dew, and even capillary
moisture from the ground." Stabilized adobe will not "swell, shrink, warp, rot, or
disintegrate from prolonged contact with moisture and are the driest masonry known."
[2] Has excellent insulating quality: "Because stabilized adobe brick walls always
remain dry, tiiey have excellent natural insulating properties." Buildings which are built
with stabilized adobe bricks are "comfortable in hot weather, usually having an inside
temj)erature considerably lower than the outside" temperature.
[3] Durability is good: "Stabihzed adobe bricks resist the erosion of wind and sand
storms to a far greater degree than traditional [untreated] adot>e bricks and require less
maintenance." When the walls are well designed, adobe buildings have good resistance to
damage by earthquake stresses.
[4] Termiteproof: "Stabilized adobe brick walls are completely unaffected by termites,
by rot, and by other destmctive insects, tiius promoting the durability of the wood u.sed to
constmct the roof and fittings such as door and window frames."
[5] Fireproof: "Walls made witii eitiier stabilized or traditional adobe have no fire
hazard." The structure is completely safe except for tiie interior fittings such as floor,
windows, and door frames.
[6] Stabilized adobe structures are safe: "Because stabilized adobe is waterproof,
stmctures built with this material have little tendency to disintegrate or collapse under
exposure to prolonged or extreme moisture conditions." Stabilized adobe bricks as a
constmction material are in the Uniform Building Code and tiie New Mexico State Code.
[7] Painting is easily accomplished: "Stabilized adobe bricks may be painted or
colored to any shade desired for those who do not care for tiie natural earth color. The
waterproof quality of this material permits the decorative coating on its surface to be
exceptionally durable."
[8] Cost is reasonable: "Stabilized adobe brick constmction is low in materials cost
and fumishes a good opportunity for fabrication by the owner himself, using either
commercially made or home made bricks."^
Molding: The variety of molding forms helps the makers of adobe to produce many
different sizes and shapes of adobe bricks. The majority of molding forms are made of
wood with tiie sides, ends, and divider members usually 4 inches wide. This produces the
standard 4-inch tiiick adobe brick. The common use of 2x4s to build forms produces a
3.5-inch thick, lighter adobe 27-30 lbs in weight.^ The molding forms can be made of
metal, as well. When molds are made of wood, they are usually "soaked in waste oil to aid
separation, although simple welting will also do."'^
In small-scale adobe production used for by traditional adobe, makers use "a two or
four adobe wooden molding fonii, which can be handled by a single individual."
Commercial and larger-scale adobe producers will have "several hundred wooden molding
forms resembling ladders that are called gang molds." The gang molds may "vary from
seven to ten molders per fonn." In some cases, "adobe molding forms were constructed
entirely of steel, aluminum, tin, or plastic."'^
The major factor for making successful adobe bricks is a warm and dry climate. The
molding and curing of adobe bricks must be done during certain periods of dry weather.
Therefore tiie use of adobe bricks is generally limited to arid lands, though sometimes this
is not absolutely necessary. Areas which have periods of a week or more without rain
would also be sufficient for adobe production.
The adob>e brick making process can be divided into a series of different steps. Many
times, the source of the adobe soil is located on the building site itself. Often the soil
excavated from the basement is used, but sometimes the soil source is located away from
the building site.
After preparing the soil for manufacturing, the soil can be mixed by hand or with a
concrete mixer. When the mixing is done by hand, the simplest method is to use a soak
pit. If stabilizers are used, there must be some kind of quantitative measuring method
which can control quality and uniformity.
The water from any source will be sufficient,as long as it is low in dissolved salts.
During the drying period, the salt crystals will "recrystallize and can do physical damage to
the surface of the brick." Extremely brackish water should not be used for mixing bricks
or mortar.
The initial drying period for molded adobe bricks ranges in time anywhere from 2-3
days in hot summer weather to several weeks in the winter. During the drying periods, the
bricks may h>e temporarily protected by plastic. These should be later removed for curing
to continue. The molding yard must be carefully designed and cared for with ground
grades and drainage so that rainwater runoff will not collect or be channeled through the
molded bricks.
Production Methods of Adobe Bricks
A number of options are available for producing adobe bricks. They can be produced
by traditional (handcrafted), semimechanized and full mechanized methods.
Traditional: Traditional bricks can be produced with tools as simple as a shovel and a
one-brick form. A crew of two can produce 300-400 bricks per day with this method. ' -
Traditional bricks are most often produced for noncommercial use by individuals for their
own constmction projects. Traditional (handcrafted) technique is used among Indian and
Spanish people and those who want to build their own adobe. It is a part of the "do it
yourself." ^3
Eloy Montano Sand and Gravel (Santa Fe), "located by the airport road in the
southwest section of Santa Fe, is a typical adobe yard that uses the traditional method of
production." With two or three employees, they make adobe bricks in the following
[1] The adob)e soil from the stockpile is used to build a mudpit into which
are placed the adobe soil and water. The soil and water are mixed by hoe
and shovel until the proper adobe-mud mixture has formed. Depending
upon the type of soil used, straw is usually added to prepared adobe bricks
from cracking excessively.
[2] The prepared adobe mud in shoveled into a wheelbarrow and is
delivered to several four-mold wooden forms that have been laid out on the
leveled ground of the adobe yard. The mud is then dumped into the
molding forms, tamped by hand into tiie comers, and bmshed clean of
excess material.
[3] The molding forms are removed by hand, with care taken to retain the
shape of the four adobe bricks, and the excess mud is washed from the
forms prior to replacing them on the level ground.
[4] After two or three days of drying, the bricks are tumed on edge and are
trimmed of excess material and any rough edges. The bricks are then
allowed to sun cure for three to four weeks before they are stacked for
delivery. ^^
Semimechanized: The semimechanized metiiod of adobe brick production is similar to
the traditional [handcrafted] method except that front-end loaders and mixing equipment-
pugmills, plaster mixer, and cement mixers are used. The semimechanized adobe producer
can make "1,000,000 or more bricks per year."^^ jhere are several large-scale adobe brick
producers in New Mexico. The production process of adobe bricks is similar among the
producers' companies. One of tiie largest producers of adobe bricks in the state is New
Mexico Earth, a company established in 1972 and managed by Richard Levine of Alameda,
New Mexico. Their method of production of adobe bricks is as follows:
[1] The soil, perhaps sand as well, is delivered to tiie adobe yard and
stockpiled adjacent to the hopper. The material is moved from the stockpile
by a front-end loader and placed into the 8x8ft pugmill hopper.
[2] The soil mixture, water, and asphalt emulsion are added simultaneously
in the pugmill. Two shafts studded with paddles rotate in the trough of the
pugmill and continuously mix the adobe material as the mud works its way
to the open and of tiie trough. The mud drops into a large mudpit [30x80
ft], and a front-end loader removes and carries the mud to the adobe-laying
[3] Located in the leveled adobe yard are usually 500-600 ten-mold wooden
forms. The adobe mud is dumped into the fonns and then raked and
leveled. The newly laid bricks are allowed to dry for several hours or until
they have started to shrink from the form side. The molding forms are then
lifted and moved to a new area.
[4] The adobe bricks are allowed to sun dry for two or three days, after
which time they are tumed on edge, trimmed, and remain in tiie adobe yard
for delivery or are stacked to cure.
[5] The delivery system at New Mexico Earth consists of several 2-5 ton
flatbed tmcks with a local delivery capability of approximately 5,000 adobe
bricks per day. ^6
Mechanized techniques of adobe brick production are usually associated with large-
scale manufacturing of adobe bricks and maximum use of mechanical equipment.
Additional types of equipment are a front-end loader, pugmills or ready-mix cement trucks,
and machine-powered mechanical adobe layers.
One of the largest producers of adobe bricks in northem New Mexico is "Medina's
Adoh)e Factory, owned and managed by Mel Medina of Alcale, New Mexico." They also
produce semistabilized adobe bricks of 4x1 Ox 14-inch size. Their production process is as
[1] Local sandy loam is obtained by land leveling nearby alluvial or
pediment deposits. The sand loam is hauled to the adobe yard and
stockpiled adjacent to tiie pugmill mixer. The soil is removed from the
stockpile by a l,5-yard3 front-end loader and is dumped onto a 1-inch-
maximum particle-size screen located over tiie pugmill.
[2] Approximately 3 yards3 of adobe soil are screened and placed in tiie
pugmill, where water and asphalt emulsion are added to the mixing process.
The two pugmill shafts, studded with paddles, rotate in tiie trough of the
4x6-ft pugmill and mix tiie adobe mud for 15-20 minutes. The mud is then
dumped into a large 33x75x7-ft mudpit. The production crew mix and
dump a sizable amount of adobe mud throughout the moming.
[3] In tiie aftemoon, a front-end loader moves the adobe mud from the
mudpit to the mud hopper on the Hans Sumpt-type adobe-layer machine.
The machine , called a self-propelled adobe layer, is operated by one person
who maneuvers it across the level adobe yard depositing 25 standard
4x1 Ox 14-inch adobe bricks at a time. The steel adobe form is tiien
hydraulically lifted by tiie machine operator and the adobe layer is moved
ahead for the next batch. A continuous straight line of adobe bricks that are
ready for drying is produced in the yard.
[4] The newly laid bricks, which cover a large area of the adobe yard and
which may total several thousands, are then allowed to dry for two or three
days, depending on the weather. They are then hand-tumed on their side by
the adobe crews, trimmed of any excess material, and allowed to dry for a
minimum of three weeks under normal conditions.
[5] When the bricks have cured sufficientiy, they are stacked directly on the
semi-flatbed tmcks for delivery or are placed on wooden pallets that hold 70
bricks per pallet. The stacked pallets are lifted onto a tmck by a forklift,
which is also hauled to tiie purchaser's building site, permitting placement
of the stacked adobe bricks adjacent to the constmction project.^^
The continued growth of the adobe brick industry in the state depends upon three basic
factors: [1] "the ability to locate and secure supplies of low-cost adobe-soil material from
federal, state, or private land"; [2] "the economic considerations related to production,
transportation, and marketing of adobe bricks"; and [3] "the acceptance by federal agencies
and others of the good physical qualities and advantages of adob>e bricks." ^^
In the Southwest area, the Indian and Spanish populations have long used adoh>e to
constmct homes. Indeed, this cultural and historic use of native soils has developed into
the largest adobe industry in the United States. New Mexico's "adobe industry continues
the largest adcbe industry in the United States. New Mexico's "adobe industry continues
to maintain an average production rate of 3 to 4 million adobe bricks and pressed-earth
blocks per year." The Indians and Spanish-Americans continue to desire adobe houses
built in tiie traditional architectural style. The solar adobe constmction has also made the
adobe industry grow. Approximately "3% of the new homes built in New Mexico are
adobe: an average of 500 to 600 new homes are built each year." 19
Today there are regulations regarding the quality and design of adobe constructions in
section 2412 of the New Mexico Building Code (Construction Industries Division, 1988).
The standard size of an adobe brick is 4x10x14. The mortar should be earth mortar, which
is thesame type as the adobe bricks. However, lime, sand-cement mortars of Types M, S,
N, are also allowed. Adobe bricks should not be laid in the wall unit fully cured. "Adobe
shall not be used for foundation or basement walls. All adobe walls, except as noted under
Group M Buildings, shall have a continuous concrete footing at least 8 inches thick and not
less than 2 inches wider." The foundation walls should be at least as thick as the exterior
Adobe bricks should not be used in any building more than 2 stories in height. The
height of adobe walls without side support should be not more than 10 times tiie thickness
of the walls. For exterior walls, "a minimum thickness of 10 inches for single story and a
minimum thickness of 14 inches for the bottom story of a two story with the upper story
allowed a minimum thickness of 10 inches. "21
The two types of tie beams are used concrete and wooden tie beams. Concrete tie
beam should be "a minimum of 6 inches thick by width of top of wall. A bond beam
centered to cover 2/3 of the widtii of tiie top of the wall by 6 inches tiiick shall be allowed
for walls wider than 24 inches." Wooden tie beam should be "a minimum of 6 inch wall
thickness except as provided for walls thicker than 10 inches above. The building official
shall approve all wooden tie beams for walls thicker tiian 10 inches."22
For window and door opening, wooden or concrete lintels should be used. The size
of wooden lintels should be "a minimum 6 inches by wall widtii. All ends shall have a wall
bearing of at least 12 inches. All lintels, wood or concrete, in excess of 9 feet shall have
approval of the building official."23
In conclusion, adobe bricks are produced in three different ways and are of seven
different types. However, traditional, semistabilized, and stabilized types of adobe bricks
are more common than the other types because the majority of adobe producers are Indian
and Spanish people who usually make traditional and semistabilized adobe bricks with
handcrafted (traditional) and semimechanized techniques. Generally, adobe producers for
commercial purposes usually produce stabilized adobe bricks with full mechanized
technique. Therefore, they can produce large numbers of adobe bricks in a short period of
"I would have tiien, our ordinary dwelling houses built to, and built to
be lovely; as rich and full of pleasantness as many be within and without....
with such difference as might suit and express each man's character and
occupation and partiy his history."
John Ruskin
The residential adobe architecture around Santa Fe and Taos has a long history behind
with tiiree different cultural background. Form the ancient history up to the present, adobe
has long been one of the most essential building material since the dawn of man in New
Mexico. Adobe has been used throughout centuries in mral housing, as well as larger and
more prestigious monuments. For so many years in the past and still today, Adobe
architecture was one of the primitive and poor man's architecture but during the 20th
century this architecture became rich man desire in New Mexico. Indeed, today one-third
of the world population still live in the adobe stmcture.
From the ancient Indian people society to the Spanish-American and the Anglo
American society, the adobe architecture has a link in the human chain that connecters from
the past to the present and to the future. Therefore, the historical architecture is a guide for
the present and the future architecture in northern New Mexico. The Pueblo Indian people
built homes with adobe material. Their method was to puddle, which was stiff damp
courses of mud about 8 to 10 inches deep one on top of another. When Spanish people
arrived to the region in the 16th century they brought a new type of adobe molding method
with them. This was a crafted of forming adobe brick in wooden molds. The Spanish
people learned this method form the Moorish during the Moslem occupation of Spain. The
Indian people immediately adopted this method of constmction, abandoning the puddling
system. The same technique has been used in the area since then up to the present day.
Domestic adobe architecture took root from three different cultures in northem New
Mexico. They are the Pueblo Indian, Spanish-American, and Anglo-American. During the
history, every individual culture has been added something to tiiis architecture from its
society, culture, tradition, and religion. Indeed, the region has a strong architecture
heritage which has been established a unique personality and tradition for the region. There
IS a link from the Indian pit house to the modem adobe house in the region, both
architectural and traditional.
Residential adobe architecture is the result of a long evolution of style, materials,
adaptation to sites, orientation, and combination of all these elements. The architecture is
the reflection of environment, people and nature. The adobe architecture is expressing
man's most fundamental creative impulses proclaiming the cultural characteristics of builder
because people who build an adobe stmcture according to their own inner light and
imagination. This developed a traditional architecture which has its own favorite forms and
details, as peculiar to that society as its language.
Despite of the styles and the architecture periods, residential architecture has similar
vocabularies in the region, but the use of these vocabularies is different according to the
various cultures. However, adobe buildings have the massive and the smooth corner lines
at the exterior with the flat roofs, portal, projected vigas, and the wooden gate which lead
to the front yard or to the court. In the interior, the spirit of space represents tiie taste of
builders with the fireplace, southwest style fumitures, and unity of space. Also the interior
of modem ado[)e houses reflects traditional folk life with the unity of outdoor. The
fumiture of modem adobe has influence from the"primitive" life and a combination of
traditional and modem architecture.
The preservation of historic adobe building involves broad and complex problems
because adobe is a material formed of earth and is only a little stronger than the soil itself.
Adobe has a nature to deteriorate; therefore, the propensity of adobe to deteriorate is a
natural, and ongoing process. Thus there are several ways to safeguard the adobe
building, but no entirely satisfactory metiiod has yet been developed. However, for
preservation and maintenance of historic adobe buildings in the region, one must 111 accept
the adobe material and its natural deterioration, 12] understand the building as a system, (3|
understand tiie forces of nature which seek to retum the building to its original state.
Domestic adobe architecture represent three different building processes in the area.
From Amos Rapoport classification for tiie residential building processes can be match
perfecdy with these building processes of northern New Mexico. "Primitive, pre-industrial
vemacular, and high-style and modem."
The primitive architecture in nortiiem New Mexico is tiie great Pueblo Indian
architecture. The pueblo architecture is an example of a simple, spontaneous life spent in
harmony with nature and in touch with elemental forces. When the Indian people built their
buildings, they never intended to erect lasting monuments. Indeed, they built tiieir house to
satisfy an immediate need, the need of their lifetime. Therefore, tiie simplicity of form and
constmction were important for them. They built cluster houses for the basic social unit.
Thus, the Pueblo Indian architecture is a matter of multiplication of the basic unit.
The pre-industrial is Spanish American architecture. This architecture has more
individual variations and is built by everyone. Spanish American architecture is also the
vemacular (mral) architecture. There is a variety of this architecture in terms of the use of
the material and the type of the plan. The small size rural houses have a certain plan type
which is single-file and hacienda. Hacienda has a inner courtyard and has single floor. In
single file plan, the number of rooms is related to the number of members in the family.
The size of the family determines the plan of house. The fireplace is the heart of the house.
In the old tradition, the fireplace was only a source for heating in the cold winter time. The
mral adoh)e houses in mountain villages have usually metal gable roof to protect adobe
stmctures from rain and snow water because water is tiie worst enemy for adobe
The high-style and modem adobe architecture represents Anglo-American adobe
architecture from the beginning of the 20th century and the present time architecture in the
northem New Mexico. After the American army arrived in 1846, the i.solated state opened
its doors to other part of the United States. Therefore, new ideas and materials were
introduced to tiie Indian and Spanish people. There was a new type of house plan with a
strong symmetry. Of course, this new type of house was the production of Anglo-
American culture. The layout of houses was totally different than those were before. The
main entrance of the house was more opened to the street. This was the opposite from the
Spanish house.
At the beginning of the 20th century people who had interest in southwestem art and
architecture built adobe houses with a combination of their Anglo taste and u-aditional
architecture. As a result, this movement has given birth to a new architecture style which is
called the "Santa Fe style" or "Adobe Revival style." This was the part of a romantic
regional movement to preserve ancient history and architecture.
Today people still build and live in the adobe houses, but every individual has some
reason for living or for building an adobe house. For example, for Indian and Spanish
people, adobe structure is part of their history and heritage. Indeed, they know how to
make adobe brick and how to build adobe stmcture in the traditional way. This is the only
material that also costs less money and labor to built a stmcture, and it is economic, and
cost less heating and cooling. An adobe house is cool in tiie summer and warm in the
winter. Thus, one can have excellent thermal comfort in an adobe house. After the energy
crisis in 1973, adobe structures have been combined with passive solar system. The solar
heating project is the perfect option for adobe material because the material itself works the
same way. Adobe has the abihty to absorb slowly and to re-radiate slowly great quantities
of heat. Indeed, adobe serves as a temperature stabilizer, helping to average out daily and
even seasonal variations and making buildings that are, almost everyone has noted for a
very long time, cool in the day and warm at night, warm in the winter and cool in the
Adobe is on the whole a mean material, but it has a memorable visual quality and an
important tiiermal one. Adobe stmctures are systems that physically holds buildings up,
and tiie stmcture also involves conceptual stmctures which bind a work of architecture into
an imaginative whole. Therefore, in its native, pre-colonial time, adobes were used to
create a primitive urban architecture; in the colonial time, they were used to stmcture a
fusion of primitive tradition with 17th century European religious principles and
architectural memories. In the 20tii century, they have been used as the framework for old-
fashioned romance and old-fashioned purities.
1. see p. 15. Bainbridge Bunting, "Development of Spanish Pueblo Architecture in
Soutwest," New Mexico Architect. No. 9-10: 12-24. 1966.
Chapter I
1. For more information, see p. 7, Jean Dethier, Down to Earth Adobe Architecture: an
Old Ideas a New Future. New York, 1982.
2. see pp. 11-15, Jerome Iowa, Ageless Adobe History and Preservation in Southwest
Architecture. Santa Fe, N.M.: Sunstone Press, 1985.
3. For more information, see p. 2, Bainbridge Bunting, Early Architecture in New
Mexico. Albuquerque, N.M.: University of New Mexico Press, 1976.
4. Iowa 1985, p. 16.
5. Bunting 1976, p. 12.
6. ibid.
7. Iowa 1885, p. 19.
8. see note 2 p. 23.
9. From Santa Fe National Park Service, National Register of Historic Place
Continuation Sheet for "Camino del Monte Sol Historic Disoict," Santa Fe County,
N.M., March 14, 1988. Unpublish material, see pp. 2-8.
10. ibid.
11. Bunting 1976, p. 12.
12. see Bunting 1976, p. 24.
13. Iowa 1985, p. 25.
14. Bunting 1976, p. 63
15. Iowa 1985, p. 33.
16. see Iowa 1985, p. 34.
17. ibid. p. 35.
18. ibid. p. 36.
19. ibid. p. 38.
20. ibid.
21. ibid. pp. 46-47.
^^" T^K-.^^' ??u^ ^- S^^^PPard, Creator of the Santa Fe Stvle: Isaac Hamilton Rnnn
^"^"^^g^- Albuquerque, N.M.: University of New Mexico Press, 1988.
23. Patric R. Cristopher, "The Architecture of Santa Fe: A Survey of Style," New Mexico
Arghiteptiire. (9,10): 12-35, 1978.
24. Iowa 1976, p. 84.
25. ibid.
26. Cristopher 1978, p. 28.
27. see p. 14, Fred G. Sturm, "Aesthetics of Soutwest," Pueblo Stvle and Regional
Aryhite^tnrf. Edited by Nicholas C. Markovich, New York, N.Y.: Van Nostrand
Reinhold, 1990.
Chapter II
1. Jerome Iowa, Ageless Adobe: History and Preservation in Southwest Architecture.
Santa Fe, N.M.: Sunstone Press, 1985, pp. 94-95.
2. see p. 11, Arrel Morgan Gibson, The Santa Fe and Taos Colonies: Age of the Muses.
1912-1942 Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1983.
3. ibid. p. 13.
4. ibid. pp. 90-91.
5. For more information see, Bainbridge Bunting, John Gaw Meem: Southwest
Architecture. Foreword by Paul Horgan, Albuquerque, N.M.: University of New
Mexico Press, 1983, pp. 4-7.
6. ibid. pp. 14-15.
7. see p. 4, "Preservation of Historic Adobe Building, "-Preservation Brief No 5,
Technical Preservation Service Division, U.S. Department of the Interior,
Washington, D.C. (U.S. Govemment Printing Office 1978 GPO stock NO. 024-
8. Antiiony Crosby, "Common Source of Deterioration," Adobe Practical and Technical
Aspects of Adobe Conservarinn Edited by James W. Garriso & Elizabeth F. Ruffner,
Heritage Foundation of Arizona, 1983, pp. 13-18.
9. see 36 CFR 68. 1-68.4, April 1981. The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for
Historic Preservation Projects.
10. see p. 27., James W. Garrison, "Approaches to Rehabilitation of Adobe Buildings,"
Adobe Practical & Technical Aspects of Adobe Conservation. Heritage Foundation of
Arizona, 1983.
11. ibid.
12. see note 9, 36 CFR 68. 1-68. 3.
13. see pp. 16-19, James R. Clifton, "Preservation of Historic Adobe Stmcture: A Status
Report," National Bureau of Standards Technical Note. No. 934. Washington, D.C:
Feb., 1977.
14. ibid.
15. ibid. p. 22.
16. ibid. p. 23
17. ibid. p. 9.
18. see note 12 p. 9.
19. ibid.
20. ibid. p. 10.
21. see note 12 p. 12
22. see note 4. p. 8.
Chapter III
1. For more information see p. 8, Amos Rapoport, Hou<>e From and CuUure.
Englewood Cliff, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1969.
2. ibid. p. 47.
3. J.B.Jacson, "Pueblo Architecture and Our Own," LandseaCfi, III No. 2 (Winter
1953-54), pp. 22-23.
4. ibid.
5. ibid. p. 24
6. Beveriy Spears American Adobes: Rural Hon.e. of Nnr^hern New Mexico.
Albuquerque, N.M.: University of New Mexico Press, 1986, p. 29.
7. William Lumpkins. La Casa Adc^he Santa Fe, N.M.: Ancient City Press, 1961, p. 4.
8. Peter Stead, "Lesson in traditional and vemacular architecture in arid zones," Housing
in And Land: desi ^ and pl^^nin^ Edited by Gideon Golany, New York: The
Architecture Press, 1980, pp. 33-44.
9. see note 6 p. 29.
10. ibid. p. 49.
11. ibid. p. 50.
12. ibid. p. 51.
13. see note 7 p. 5.
14. Bainbridge Bunting. Earlv Architecture in New Mexico. Albuquerque, N. M.:
University of New Mexico Press, 1976, pp. 94-95.
15. seep. 21, Artell Morgan Gibson. The Santa Fe and Taos Colonies: Age of the
Muses. 1900-1942. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1983.
16. ibid. p. 89.
17. Anne Taylor, Southwest Ornamentation & Design: the Architecture of John Gaw
Meem. Santa Fe, N. M.: Sunstone Press, 1989, p. 13.
18. Anne Taylor, Southwest Omamentation & Design: Architecture of John Gaw Meem.
Santa Fe, N. M.: Sunstone Press, 1989, p. 20.
19. A.W. Conway, "A Northern New Mexico House-Type: and Suggestion for the
Identifying of Others." Landscape. No. 1:(20-21), Autumn 1951.
20. seep. 42, Carlos Vierra. "New Mexico Architectire." Art and Archeology. 7(1,2):37-
47, 1918.
21. Chris Wilson, "New Mexico in the Tradition of Romantic Reaction," Pueblo Style and
Regional Architecture. Edited by Nicholas C. Markovich, New York, N.Y.: Van
Nostrand Reinhold, 1990, p. 177.
22. see note 1 p. 8.
Chapter IV
1. For more information about terminology and characteristics of adobe brick see p. 13
14, Smith Edward W. Adobe brick in New Mexico. Socorro, N.M.: State of New
Mexico, 1982.
2. ibid. p. 15.
3. see note 1 p. 14.
4. ibid. p. 23.
5. ibid. p. 25.
6. see note 4.
7. ibid. p. 14.
8. see pp. 26-27, Edward W. Smith & George S. Austin, Adobe, pressed-earth. and
rammed-earth industries in New Mexico. Socorro, N. M.: Bulletin 127, New Mexico
Bureau of Mines & Mineral Resources 1989 A Division of New Mexico Institute of
Mining & Technology.
9. see note 1 p. 19.
10. see p. 63, Paul Graham McHenry, Adobe and Rammed Earth Buildings: Design and
Constmction. Tuscon, The University of Arizona Press, 1984.
11. see note 1 pp. 19-22.
12. see p. 67 from note 9.
13. ibid.
14. see note 8 pp. 26-27.
15. see note 1 p. 27.
16. see note 8 p. 28.
17. ibid. pp. 31-33.
18. see note 1 p. 63.
19. ibid.
20. seep. 22. Constmction Industries Division. New Mexico Building Code:
Constmction Industries Division. General Constmction Bureau, Santa Fe, N.M.:
21. ibid. p. 24.
22. ibid. p. 25.
23. ibid.
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