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October 6, 2011

A joyous moment: The site that Alba and Lopez discovered, on the developing southside of Santa Fe, offered the space, the views, and a promising pack of neighbors. The land also came with a well, utility lines, an access drive and very liberal building covenants. If lamesadevenn had as much money as it did ideas, they would’ve bought the place on the spot.

In this series, trace the evolution of lamesadevenn, an international collaborative of architects, product designers and communication specialists who are redefining how and why we design. They’ve brought in journalist Seth Biderman and illustrator Nacho Durá to chronicle their “living projects,” like the Rancho—a live/work space designed to foster community and sustainable values in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The project’s birth and site selection are chronicled in Part 1: A Vision is Born and Part 2: The Sweet Spot. Financing their project was the next hurdle, described here in Part 3: Spare Change?

Alba estimated the collaborative would need around $370,000 to purchase the land and frame out the building. Pre-2008, loan officers would’ve been knocking each over other to offer him the money, but the housing crisis had changed the picture dramatically
Alba estimated the collaborative would need around $370,000 to purchase the land and frame out the building. Pre-2008, loan officers would’ve been knocking each over other to offer him the money, but the housing crisis had changed the picture dramatically.
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Enter Los Alamos National Bank. Yes, the same Los Alamos where America’s best scientists were secreted away in the 1940s to create the world’s deadliest weapon. The war ended, but the scientists stuck around. One of them, George Cowan, applied his smarts
Enter Los Alamos National Bank. Yes, the same Los Alamos where America’s best scientists were secreted away in the 1940s to create the world’s deadliest weapon. The war ended, but the scientists stuck around. One of them, George Cowan, applied his smarts to the financial system, and in the early 1960’s opened one of the most innovative and successful banks in New Mexico. It’s also one of the most generous, and has provided key funding for community groups and schools. When lamesadevenn knocked on the door with its big plans and restrictive budget, they welcomed him with open arms.
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Impressed by the lamedsadevenn vision, Los Alamos National Bank agreed to put up enough money to enable Alba to purchase the land and start building. When last minute negotiations drove the price up a few thousand, Alba called out for help. Jeremy Eichler
Impressed by the lamedsadevenn vision, Los Alamos National Bank agreed to put up enough money to enable Alba to purchase the land and start building. When last minute negotiations drove the price up a few thousand, Alba called out for help. Jeremy Eichler, an artist, gallery owner and financial whiz who’d been in on lamesadevenn from the beginning knew where to turn: his parents, Dr. and Mrs. Eichler. They'd recently sold off their renowned dental practice in D.C. and were in France, looking around for worthy projects to help out. The couple was intrigued by lamesadevenn’s youthful energy and commitment to collaboration, and offered to lend a hand. There was no time to waste: Alba caught the next plane to Paris to sign a personal loan agreement, while Lopez assumed power-of-attorney and took care of the purchase docs in Santa Fe. Within 24 hours, Alba had assumed more debt that he’d accumulated in a lifetime—for better or worse, lamesadevenn’s Rancho project was finally on the books.
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In San Francisco, the collaborative convened to celebrate and flush out the Rancho vision. Designer Brendan Callahan, strategist Chris Bright, and architects Ann Minh, Angus Eade and Alba decided they would push the envelop: the new building would embody
In San Francisco, the collaborative convened to celebrate and flush out the Rancho vision. Designer Brendan Callahan, strategist Chris Bright, and architects Ann Minh, Angus Eade and Alba decided they would push the envelop: the new building would embody the community values of the local non-profit La Mesita while simultaneously reaching out to the immediate neighbors. From Spain, architect Santiago Buraglia listened in, and then began mining some of the award-winning work he and Alba had generated at their firm—like this highly-acclaimed contest design for a cultural center in Spain’s Basque country.Illustration by Alba.Buraglia Arquitectura
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The euphoria faded quickly. As Eade and Alba got to work preparing the site for construction, they were met with some unexpected expenses.<br /><br />
<p>• $10K to excavate expansive soils and replace with engineered fill (plus another chunk of change to
The euphoria faded quickly. As Eade and Alba got to work preparing the site for construction, they were met with some unexpected expenses.

• $10K to excavate expansive soils and replace with engineered fill (plus another chunk of change to replace an unregistered water main that the Utility company broke in the process of installing it’s gas line).

• $2K to extend utility lines.

• $20K quote by the municipal authorities for a legitimate sewage extension.

• $5K to widen an access bridge, by order of the fire marshal.

• $10K to make sure they complied by a new county ordinance for water harvesting.

Three months after the loan had been signed, lamesadevenn’s “living project” was behind schedule and over budget, and the first footers had yet to be poured.

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But dreams die hard. The collaborative regrouped and pushed forward, and hoped for the best. <br /><br />Next installment: Breaking the Forms.<br /><br />Click <a href="http://www.dwell.com/articles/lamesadevenn-from-start-to-finish.html">here</a> to foll
But dreams die hard. The collaborative regrouped and pushed forward, and hoped for the best. Next installment: Breaking the Forms.Click here to follow the lamesadevenn story from the beginning.
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