Fans of midcentury designer Alexander Girard will enjoy exploring the Pritzker Student Center at St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Alexander Girard at St. John’s College
SANTA FE, NM
Fans of midcentury designer Alexander Girard will enjoy exploring the Pritzker Student Center at St. John’s College. The gemstone of the Territorial-Modern campus is located at the base of Santa Fe’s Sun Mountain, a mile from Girard’s work at the Compound on Canyon Road, and around the corner from his final masterpiece—the Multiple Visions exhibition of Girard’s collection at the Museum of International Folk Art on Museum Hill.
The public-facing home of the college’s bookstore, coffee shop, cafeteria, auditorium, gallery, and meeting rooms features interiors decorated with furnishings, lighting, and several murals designed by the master designer. Look for the extraordinary colorblocked doors, staggered built-in desks under personal chalkboards in the coffee shop, the telegraph mural above the old telephone booths, and the stunning 129-foot-long partially completed mural along the first-floor hallway.
Each of the mural’s blocks was programmed with a symbol representing the highest values of the school’s Great Books program, and while many were not completed, a sixteen-foot-long section at the entry of the bookstore was.
Intriguingly, Girard used a personal symbolic language to decorate his buildings, and his work at St. John’s shares details with his other works in New Mexico—including symbols planned for the mural and the square tiles in the coffee shop—as well as projects in Columbus, Indiana, which share the white-bar lighting of the cafeteria. Visitors can grab a bite at the coffee shop and the cafeteria, and be sure to visit the much-beloved bookstore.
And… one of the symbols on the mural is incorrect! Did you find it?