The design of the facility—with its sharp right angles, polished terrazzo floors, and floor to ceiling glass—represents a period of architecture that was sensitive to the user, offering a range of affordable housing to meet the post World War Two demands of growing families. The attractive houses, a favorite of retirees and seasonal residents, are now getting more expensive, as evidenced on a tour of select homes that accompanied a preview of the center. An estimated 45,000 devotees attended the city’s Modernism Week last February.
When Santa Fe Federal Savings & Loan went bankrupt in the 1980s, the building’s site was proposed for a 4-story retail centerpiece to 19 condos. The proposal galvanized an emerging preservation movement, spurred by the architect’s daughter-in-law, Sidney Williams, which stopped the project in its tracks, declared the building a historic monument, and, in time, launched the rehabilitation of the center. Sidney Williams is now the curator of the new center.
Marmol Radziner’s renovation is based in part on the photographs of Julius Shulman, who documented many of the mid-century modernist buildings in the area.
E. Stewart Williams will be honored in the opening exhibit, entitled An Eloquent Modernist, which is accompanied by an illustrated book of the same title.