Los PoblanosJoAnn Greco • Photography by Kate Russell Photography • March 28, 2018
The roots of Los Poblanos, an inn located 25 acres outside downtown Albuquerque, go back to a small 19th-century vernacular building that was enlarged in the 1930s into a hacienda-style ranch by celebrated New Mexico modernist John Gaw Meem for his client Congressman Albert Simms. Depression-era artisans like woodcutter Gustave Baumann and ironsmith Walter Gilbert, along with the pioneering female landscape architect Rose Greely, also contributed to the site.
For AOS Architects, melding these layers as part of a renovation and expansion meant “updating one of the most cherished and historic properties in the state without overwhelming its scale,” says principal Shawn Evans. Besides adding 28 extra guestrooms, bringing the total to 50, the project also included a new restaurant, event space, and commercial-grade kitchen, and an expanded shop, which sells grab-and-go items as well as products made from the lavender grown on the site.
The new guestrooms extend right up to the lavender fields. “The smells that come into the rooms are just incredible,” observes Evans, “while linking all of the businesses and giving a very real sense of place.”
The team also “had to balance the new architecture with what’s there,” says Evans. “We ended up largely operating in the farm style—with pitched roofs and windows borrowed from the milking barns—but we weren’t slavish to it. There are moments of contemporary design, but always with an eye toward using the simple materials and humble construction of the historic fabric.” For example, he says, corrugated metal roofs nod to traditional New Mexican architecture, but by extending the material down the sides of the exterior walls, a modern aesthetic is introduced.
Interiors, too, focus on the traditional elements found elsewhere— such as white oak floors and Mexican tile. Evans praises owner Matthew Rembe, who worked closely on the remodeling, for his “incredible design sensibility —he’s a master at recognizing treasures.” Among his finds: a set of doors, wine racks, and a hostess desk picked up at an auction from the classic Santa Fe hotel Bishop’s Lodge, currently undergoing a major renovation.
“Part of the charm of Los Poblanos has always been that everything has a patina,” Evans says. “It’s ironic that a lot of the character and vibe of the new design comes from these finds. As the local hotels modernize, here we are building out of their remnants. Integrating those parts into the property is a key factor for the success of the renovation.”