August 10-13, 2021
Pueblo of Laguna, NM

Pueblo of Laguna Arts Market and Main Street

The Pueblo of Laguna project builds on the tribe’s vision of a Main Street that supports robust commerce, artists, and food systems, while building on a millennium of history. One key element of their Main Street vision includes a pop-up vendor market, designed for and by tribal members. From the beginning of the project, the indigenous relationship of the tribe to its land presented a rich and unique opportunity for the CIRD workshop.
View of the Village of Laguna, heart of the pueblo, from a distance. photo courtesy Elroy Keetso.

Background and Workshop Challenge

The Pueblo of Laguna is a traditional Native American community located in what is now west-central New Mexico. The name, Laguna, is Spanish (meaning “small lake”) and derives from the lake located on the reservation. The people of Laguna have a long history of residing in and farming along the nearby Rio San José. The Pueblo of Laguna is the largest of the seven Keresan pueblos, sharing a linguistic heritage with Zuni, Zia, and other pueblo cultures. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1973, the Laguna historic district consists of approximately 108 acres including a southeastern section of the pueblo that dates from the 1400s. The reservation’s 500,000 acres of land are roughly 45 miles west of Albuquerque, with residents living in six villages: Mesita, Paguate, Seama, Paraje, Encinal, and Laguna, the seat of tribal government.

The Pueblo of Laguna (POL) is first and foremost its people, their relationships to clan and family, responsibilities to one other, and commitment to the persistence of Laguna culture. This commitment is reflected in their pottery, jewelry, and sewing and their expertise in arid-land farming. Their communal identity centers on the Village of Laguna, the “mother village” and “capital.” Through a local design workshop, CIRD worked with the Pueblo to begin planning the Laguna Main Street project, an economic revitalization project along historic Route 66 where it passes through the reservation. Main Street improvements are focused on attracting new businesses that meet community needs for goods and services and supporting other economic development, like tourism. Vendors, including artisans and farmers, would like a committed site to attract and capture business, providing more business stability and increasing economic prosperity. The Main Street area concept may also include the development of community health buildings, housing, and outdoor spaces for physical activity, such as walking trails. The CIRD workshop, focused on the vendor market - an 80,000 square foot site for an arts and crafts/food/farmer’s market facility - is the first project for the Laguna Main Street revitalization.  

Two tribal members discuss marketplace site configuration options at the workshop. Photo by Zain Islam-Hashmi, courtesy To Be Done Studio.
Two tribal members discuss marketplace site configuration options at the workshop. Photo by Zain Islam-Hashmi, courtesy To Be Done Studio.

Workshop Process

The workshop was originally planned for May 2020, but was postponed to the summer of 2021 due to the pandemic. During the year-long delay, the Pueblo hosted virtual focus group sessions for community members with a vested stake in the project, such as individual artists, historians, farmers, and local business and land owners, as well as a broader group of residents across multiple generations. Members of the design team also were able to travel to the Pueblo in August 2020 to conduct a short site visit and document existing conditions in order to better understand the land and its potential as a hub of community activity.

The CIRD workshop took place August 10-13, 2021. To protect against spreading COVID-19, the workshop followed strict health protocols. The Pueblo required all participants to be fully-vaccinated, and masks were required at all times.

Led by the Pueblo of Laguna Planning Program, the Pueblo collaborated with CIRD and the NM Frontier and Native American Community Initiative on the project, along with local partners at the Laguna Community Foundation, Pueblo of Laguna Utility Authority, Laguna Development Corporation, Laguna Department of Education, NM Department of Transportation on walkability, the Pueblo Council and Village of Laguna leaders. The design team was led by Omar Hakeem and Zain Islam-Hashmi from CIRD’s design partner To Be Done Studio. It also included designers with deep experience working with Native American communities—including Joseph Kunkel (Northern Cheyenne) and Nathaniel Corum (MASS Design Group’s Sustainable Native Communities Design Lab) and Amy Bell (Groundwork Studio). Earlier stages of work were supported by Michaela Shirley (Navajo), Program Specialist from University of New Mexico’s Indigenous Design and Planning Institute. The workshop was supported throughout the planning stages by the CIRD core team, including Evelyn Immonen and Stephen Sugg from the Housing Assistance Council and Jennifer Hughes and Courtney Spearman from the National Endowment for the Arts.

In Laguna, the workshop kicked off with a community meeting focused on local individuals with technical expertise in planning, infrastructure, engineering, and other fields. This helped the design team leverage the community’s own expertise for some of the more technical aspects of the design, including stormwater management and site concepts. The team also met with members of the focus groups to identify their thoughts on the goals and challenges for the proposed vendor market. The following two days featured site modeling activities and a pop-up market on the future marketplace site. These activities provided the design team with valuable community input and guided the development of three distinct marketplace concepts.  

On the fourth day of the workshop, the design team presented the proposed designs to the Pueblo, with guests ranging from workshop attendees and tribal members to state officials and local agency representatives. The workshop concluded with an Open House for community members to celebrate the efforts from the workshop and gain additional feedback on the proposed design schemes.

Download the workshop agenda (3 MB) 

CIRD team leader Omar Hakeem discusses marketplace site elements with community members. Photo by Zain Islam-Hashmi, courtesy To Be Done Studio.
CIRD team leader Omar Hakeem discusses marketplace site elements with community members. Photo by Zain Islam-Hashmi, courtesy To Be Done Studio.


Three schematic site options were developed as part of an engaged design process that included participatory site modeling, focus groups, visual preference surveys and of course, good conversations over delicious meals. Each site plan is designed to explore a specific set of themes and to garner additional feedback at the open house.

Option 1 provides a food-vendor only zone at the north end of the site that wraps around a public seating/green space framed on the south by a set of covered vendor stalls. Further to the south a large covered open area creates space for gathering, dance, music and other cultural activities framed by covered art/craft vendor stalls. A fully enclosed art/craft/visitor center is located at the southern end of the site as well as a large vendor parking area.

Option 2 shares many traits with Option 1 however utilizes the circle as the main organizing form. A mixed-art/food vendor area wraps down the northeast side of the site framing views towards a circular covered seating area as well as the primary parking area. This line of vendor stalls wraps all the way down the site creating a promenade. Further south, a large circular open space creates space for dance, gathering and other cultural activities. This is framed to the west by an arts/crafts/visitor center that will include space for the display of flags and other culturally significant symbols.

Option 3 takes advantage of larger enclosed building and parking spaces to accommodate the discussed programs as well as a large "green buffer" that wraps around the north and west sides of the site and connects to the nearby river. Two larger parking areas flank the existing Post Office building. Food vendor spaces are provided to the north, and arts/craft vendor spaces are provided to the south. Large gathering spaces are included on both the north and south ends of the site.

Next Steps

Based on the community feedback, the Option 2 scheme was developed further while taking into consideration many of the other aspects of Options 1 and 3. The design team also developed a set of 3D ground level perspective renderings to further explore the architectural concepts discussed in the community engagement meetings. Download the Design Book for more details.

Learn more from the CIRD Story "Pueblo of Laguna Explores Marketplace Design Concepts."