On the north side of Santa Fe, New Mexico, a just-completed senior living community promises an “oasis downtown” thanks to aesthetics inspired by the surrounding desert vistas and the city’s multicultural, artistic heritage. Designed by national architecture firm three (threearch.com), La Secoya de El Castillo comprises nearly 200,000 square feet of development on two and a half acres, including 68 one- and two-bedroom independent living apartments, with on-site healthcare settings and vibrant amenities.

According to Rocky Berg, AIA, architect and principal with Dallas-based three, the residence sits atop a 55,000-square-foot underground parking facility for up to 150 vehicles (plus 47 resident storage units) presenting seniors with easy access to everything Santa Fe has to offer. For example, La Secoya is less than ten minutes walking distance from the Lensic Performing Arts Center.

An adjunct of the El Castillo Life Plan Community about a mile south (where three previously designed an expansion and upgrades) La Secoya is the first ground-up project designed by the firm for nonprofit owner-operator El Castillo Retirement Residences, in partnership with management consultancy Greystone Communities. Working closely with El Castillo CEO Al Jahner, Berg and his team applied three’s signature design approach, developing a concept that captures Jahner’s vision for a unique resident experience.

The primary takeaways from the pre-design engagement sessions emphasize the region’s natural beauty, especially the sequoia trees on the site for which the new community is named.

“These days seniors want to live in an environment that inspires and invigorates,” says Berg, an acknowledged national expert on senior living trends who writes and speaks frequently for professional audiences. “They also seek out communities with on-site and nearby amenities that support leading a purposeful life, at any age. Our design for La Secoya combines these elements in a setting that celebrates Santa Fe’s culture and scenery.”

Berg and the architects at three strove to deliver El Castillo’s vision for La Secoya on schedule and budget, in spite of construction taking place during the pandemic and through various supply chain crises. “Also, by collaborating effectively with Greystone and key project partners, we were able to realize key operational efficiencies that will keep costs down for both operators and residents,” adds Berg.

The result is a welcome addition to Santa Fe’s cultural and economic fabric, providing essential, high-quality housing options for the New Mexico capital’s growing cohort of seniors, on a site that will allow residents to be a vital part of city life.