In the Baca Railyard district, at The Trailhead, you’ll find a manifestation of landscape architect Solange Serquis’s philosophy. Following her core belief that people need nature to thrive, Solange and her husband Andres Paglayan, created The Trailhead as an urban sanctuary intended to gather and connect our community. It is home to live/work units, offices, vacation rentals, and Cafecito with its peaceful garden space and mature trees.
Solange’s design seamlessly blends interior and exterior spaces. Her work, whether for private or public projects, expresses the same values: respect for the land, reclaim/reuse as much as possible, utilization of sensual textures and color palettes, and ample integrated structures for privacy and repose.
In addition to the design contributions she has made in our city, including the Acequia Trail Underpass and Design Week, Solange is an avid supporter of arts education, equity and access, and grassroots initiatives that celebrate creativity and connection in our community.
Meet Solange and learn more about her work in our recent interview—
How did you get into your work?
My thesis focused on the power of Healing Gardens. Through my research I understand how we biologically and psychologically benefit from a nurturing outdoor environment. How such space not only heals individuals, but it can foster a healthy community and create a sense of belonging.
Ironically, when I began my career, I spent most of my day working inside an office. It was such a jarring juxtaposition to my childhood, which was spent mostly outdoors, surrounded by eucalyptus trees. So, I became very conscious of how to surround myself with nature even when I am inside: the view out the window mattered. I want us to experience the outdoors as much as possible, even while we are indoors. How wonderful it is to do as much of our work as we can in the open air!
How does Serquis & Associates approach or begin a project?
We begin every project with a Discovery Mindset. Our goal is to discover our client’s needs and vision, and to understand the land that we will be developing the design for. Our site visit is extensive.
What are some challenges you see in our community that you are trying to help solve?
Connectivity! We all work on projects that are isolated from the total sum of our spaces as destinations and how they link to one another. Any potential scale of a project needs to first find the relationship with its surroundings, no matter how big or small or its location; it all generates an impact—positive and negative.
What are your hopes and dreams for our city?
I fell in love with Santa Fe on Day 1! My family and I ended up here by accident and we have always said how lucky we are, because we probably couldn’t have picked a better place to live. The people here are connected on many levels, even when our cityscape is not. We need to find a way to increase our connection—from all the sides, south to north and east to west.
Our physical landscape reflects what we value. I am excited to see Santa Fe developing great leaders on all fronts. It is my hope that together, we prioritize the interconnectivity of our city not as an extra public amenity, but as a foundation for a healthy community that honors everyone. We can design our public spaces to mend the divide that we feel.
Which creative/changemaker in our city do you admire and why?
Catherine Oppenheimer—We first met as mothers with young kids who went to the same school. Through our social interactions at birthday parties and playdates, Catherine shared with me her dream of providing arts education to all kids, regardless of their family financial picture. Her commitment to this dream has brought our city both NDI-NM and the New Mexico School for the Arts. I truly admire and deeply grateful for Catherine’s tenacity.
Gail Haggard—When I first moved here from Buenos Aires, I made it a point to extend my education by frequenting Gail’s plant nursery, Plants of the Southwest. I wanted to understand the natural beauties that thrive in the high desert. I consider Gail as my mentor and design partner in our projects. Her nursery has redefined what is beautiful and made it easy for others to integrate that beauty into their own landscapes. In addition to the native seed collection project she started at Plants of Southwest, she also founded the Native Plant Society of the Southwest. Her work is monumental in preservation and education.