Urban Design

The award-winning Santa Fe Railyard is the result of many hands, heads, and hearts. The citizens of Santa Fe created this community-oriented public space with over 20 years of democratic planning. Over 80 events in the Railyard are held each year. It is a community asset used by the citizens who planned it. Since opening in 2008 the Railyard has won nearly two-dozen awards for the design of its outdoor spaces, for best practices in green infrastructure, for urban excellence, and the most recent award “Great Public Space” by the American Planning Association in 2015.

Bechtol has continued her role as leader in the Railyard and greater Santa Fe community working with the Trust for Public Land to design and implement an international design competition, 1999-2001, for the public areas of the Railyard, the 12.5 acres of Park, Plaza and Alameda. She was on the Advisory Committee, 2001-2009, assisting TPL to design, and raise the funds to build the Park. She was on the design team during schematic design providing local connections and knowledge for the team chosen for the design: Ken Smith, Mary Miss, and Frederic Schwartz. She was on the founding board of the Railyard Stewards, 2006-2009, and leads the Partnership Committee of the Railyard Park and Plaza Stewards Board, a forming non-profit that is already making a huge difference by providing enhanced care and programming for this important new public space of Santa Fe. With her leadership and continuity she has shepherded this public project from the stirrings of neighborhood discontent to a loved public space.

Gayla Bechtol, AIA began planning the Santa Fe Railyard in 1995.

1995-1997 Initiated and co-lead the AIA R/UDAT forming a steering committee identifying stakeholders, getting broad-based support, and raising $40,000 in donations and in-kind.

1998 Joined the TPL Advisory Council

2001 Represented the R/UDAT as a stakeholder on the Master Plan team

2001-2002 Consultant to TPL for the International Design Competition

2002 On the Schematic Design Team – Ken Smith, Mary Miss and Fred Schwartz -community participation

2002-2009 On the TPL Railyard Advisory Council- Design and Construction of Park, Plaza, Alameda- community participation, fundraising, design/construction

2007-2015 Founding Board Member of Railyard Stewards, the non-profit dedicated to the Stewardship of the Park, Plaza and Alameda

2011-2013 Co-created the International Folk Art Market Free Community Celebration using the Railyard as a processional and celebratory space

2014 Kindle Foundation Co-hort of the Solutions Laboratory for Urban Forestry exploring the Railyard as a model and experiment of community ecology.

1997 Community Plan 1

1997 Community Plan 2

1997 Community Plan 3

1997 Community Plan 4

1997 Community Plan 5

1997 Community Plan 6



2015 Great Public Space of 2015 Award from American Planning Association2014 USA Today Reader’s Top Ten Best Arts Districts in the US2014 Finalist Urban Open Space Award from Urban Land Institute2009-2014 Various Best of Santa Fe Award, Public Outdoor Space from Santa Fe Reporter2013 Best Practices for a Brownfield Site Award from National Environmental Protection Agency2011-2012 Excellence Award from American Society of Landscape Architects2011 Rudy Bruner Great Places Award, Silver Medalist from Rudy Bruner Award2011 Urban Design Award from New York Chapter of the AIA Honor2011 Best Practices in Green Infrastructure Award from Environmental Protection Agency2011 National Silver Medal Urban Excellence Award from Rudy Bruner Foundation2010 Design Stewardship Award from National Endowment for the Arts2010 Placemaking Urban Design Award from Boston Society of Architects2010 Community Preservation Planning Award from State of New Mexico Historic Preservation Office2010 Designing the Parks Award from National Park Service2009 Best Places Award from New York AIA2007 Railyard Groundbreaking Host Award from Trust for Public Land2007 John J. Kenney Award from The Santa Fe Community Foundation