Posts tagged with "Mexico City":

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This office building in Mexico City filters sunlight through a flowing steel veil

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Since 1997, California’s Belzberg Architects has consistently delivered forward-thinking facade systems across North America. Profiles is a six-story commercial building draped in a diaphanous and perforated carbon-steel veil that partially resembling a stylish extraterrestrial ship landed in the heart of Mexico City. Profiles is located mid-block, surrounded by rows of predominantly three-to-five-story structures. The south elevation of the project is highly exposed by virtue of its height, providing Belzberg Architects the opportunity to play with the building's corner. The facade consists of a CR Glass–produced curtainwall shaded by a cloak of perforated carbon steel fabricated by El Roble. Walkways are located between the screen and the glass, providing a significant amount of elevated outdoor space for the building.
  • Facade Manufacturer El Roble C.R. Glass
  • Architects Belzberg Architects
  • Facade Installer Groupo Anima
  • Facade Consultants Arup
  • Location Mexico City
  • Date of Completion 2018
  • System Carbon-steel veil over glass curtainwall
  • Products C.R. Glass–glazed glass panels El Roble custom-treated steel
The primary function of the carbon-steel veil is to serve as an exterior-shading device, and to this effect, the design team used a digital script to randomly distribute the perforations. "The holes were constrained to a specific range of diameters and with minimum dimensions for separation between edges," said Belzberg Architects. "The resultant quantity of holes was not significant for us from a design standpoint, but there was specific attention paid to the resultant open area as percentage. We targeted 50 percent open area to balance views out with effectiveness as exterior shading." Across the two elevations, circular segments of the perforated material remain attached as protruding disks. The protruding elements referred to by the designer as "chads," establish a dynamic effect over the facade; during the day they cast shadows across the building, while at night they reflect interior light for a lamp-like effect. Carbon steel, as opposed to steel or stainless steel, contains a greater proportion of carbon—up to 2.1 percent. As a result of this larger carbon content, carbon steel possesses a malleability highly suitable for undulating second skins. In total, over 450 carbon-steel panels—flat, single curved, and double curved—are draped over the facade. There are two standard dimensions for the panels: approximately four feet by three feet, and four feet by eight feet. Each panel is linked to a four-inch-by-four-inch hollow structural section via bolted connections. Although the facade was digitally designed and partially CNC-fabricated, significant segments required hand-bending; the chads had to be welded by hand. Double-curved panels were measured against CNC-milled formworks for accuracy. Profiles is one of five recently completed or underway projects by Belzberg Architects in Mexico City for developer Grupo Anima.
     
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Ignacio Urquiza, Bernardo Quinzaños, and Centro de Colaboración Arquitectónica are an inclusive activist practice

Every year the Architectural League of New York recognizes eight dynamic young firms as Emerging Voices that have the potential to become leaders in the field. Historic winners like Morphosis (1983) and Toshiko Mori (1992) have become today's lions, and practices like Johnston Marklee (2007) and Tatiana Bilbao (2010) have jumped to new heights after recent wins. This year's crop was selected in a two-stage portfolio competition where a jury of architects selected the winners. The deciding jury included several previous winners like Dominic Leong (2017), Fernanda Canales (2018), and Marlon Blackwell (1998), giving the process a familial feel. Laureates for 2019 come from across North America and almost all are partnerships or collaboratives—capital letters feature prominently, too.  Ignacio Urquiza, Bernardo Quinzaños, and CCA will lecture at the Scholastic Auditorium at 130 Mercer Street, New York, New York, at 7:00 p.m. on March 7, as part of the Emerging Voices lecture series.

Bernardo Quinzaños, Ignacio Urquiza, and Mexico City–based Centro de Colaboración Arquitectónica (CCA) have over a decade of experience working toward their goal of using architecture as a “tool for change.”

Since its founding in 2008, the partnership has completed over two hundred projects with the help of many interdisciplinary collaborators, including builders, contractors, and nonprofits. The firm, an organization dedicated to the “research, conceptualization, and development of architectural and urban projects,” according to the architects, combines tastefully exuberant buildings with socially driven programming—the goal being to enrich the practice of architecture. With a deep interest in local building traditions and a passion for collaboration between adjacent professionals and craftspeople, Quinzaños and Urquiza pursue building as a social and creative enterprise.

For example, the firm recently completed a new campus for the State of Mexico Boys and Girls Club, an organization for at-risk youth, comprising three spartan educational buildings linked by an arch-covered concrete walkway. Just as the human spine is made up of two dozen vertebrae, the walkway is composed of 24 pairs of intersecting concrete vaults generously proportioned for group conversation. The walkway connects classrooms and spaces for the performing arts and sports programs with a sunken amphitheater and plaza that constitute the center’s beating social heart.

Urquiza explained, “We’ve always had a particular interest in architecture that is precise, yet at the same time has the flexibility of being able to give itself to each space.” He added, “Ambiguity is what gives architecture the freedom to be owned by its users.”

One way the parnership imbues its projects with this desired ambiguity is by creating many different kinds of covered outdoor spaces to establish architecturally focused social condensers.

In their Escuela Bancaria y Comercial Aguascalientes project, for instance, the designers invert the approach taken at the Boys and Girls Club by designing an inwardly focused campus centered on broad internal hallways and exposed single-loaded corridors. A central concrete-lined courtyard is the epicenter of consecutive circulation rings that connect formal classrooms and libraries with public living rooms to help create areas where students’ minds can wander and extended conversations can take place.

In the firm’s more conventional commercial and residential projects, the designers make skillful use of layered spaces to add a human dimension to larger-scale buildings. Casa Moulat, a wedge-shaped residential golf compound north of Mexico City, for example, uses mud-colored concrete walls to frame a pair of long-span openings that dematerialize to form a living room open to the landscape on two sides. At Casa Moulat, landscapes, materials, and buildings come together both physically and conceptually.

As Urquiza sees it, their approach is a pragmatic one: “For us, it’s very important to understand what we have available nearby and use it in a precise manner. Economy of means is a fundamental concept in our practice.”

Starting 2019, Urquiza and Quinzaños will carry on to work in independent offices: Quinzaños will remain as lead of Centro de Colaboración Arquitectónica while Urquiza will continue his practice as Ignacio Urquiza Arquitectos.
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Acadia 2018 focused on imprecision in digital design

For the first time in its 37-year history, the 2018 Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture (ACADIA) Conference convened in Mexico City. The conference was chaired by Pablo Kobayashi and Brian Slocum, and was hosted by the University Iberoamericana. The cultural implications of holding the conference in Mexico City were best explained by keynote speaker and professor at the Universidad Iberoamericana CDMX and principal at Estudio MMX, Diego Ricalde’s analysis punnily titled PPP (Prejudice, Paradox, Pragmatism). Ricalde speculated that Mexico’s architectural culture is at a moment where the unproductive division of old world single-vision, analog thinking, and new world "digital hysteria" needs to come to an end. Ricalde’s call for action can be read as a parallel to this year’s ACADIA theme "Recalibration: On Imprecision and Infidelity". The theme encouraged participants to rethink a machine-driven infatuation with nano-centric precision, and recover other avenues of thinking and making. One of the keynote lecturers in the conference, Francesca Hughes, a professor and head of school at UTS Sydney, presented a historically guided parallel analysis between the development of machines and algorithms (in relation to precision and imprecision). She highlighted the architectural surface as an agent that inspired a world-wide (or rather architecture school–wide) cultural obsession with precision and the birth of the software-compulsive object. Critiquing our collective obsession with precision, Hughes offered “error” as a new architectural context in which to frame other digital and "real" systems of designing. Other conference participants (organizers, keynote lecturers, presenters, award recipients, and moderators) responded in their own particular ways to the same question. Every Acadia conference is unique, and the overall discourse generated from the discussions and presentations of the work varies significantly from year to year. The 2018 six-day endeavor, split evenly between conference and workshop components, attracted 282 attendees from all over the world. One could say that this year’s conference consisted of three primary categories: theory/speculative narratives, work that investigates the aesthetic potential of new technologies, and hyper-focused computation/fabrication oriented research efforts. These categories balanced and propelled the conference into a truly spectacular, inspiring, and educational event. Projects, papers, and talks positioned on theoretical and cross-disciplinary grounds This first category can be best illustrated by the materials presented (and materials included in the publication) by participants such as Neil Leach, Mónica Ponce de León, Patrik Schumacher, Axel Kilian, Behnaz Farahi, Brandon Clifford, Jose Sanchez, ACADIA president Kathy Velikov, and many others. These researchers and thinkers are engaged in cross-disciplinary work and therefore carry a certain responsibility for setting the tone for the overall theme of the event and the conversations that continue after the conference. Leach, for example, appealed to the audience to reassess its understanding of the digital and post-digital. He suggested that we are not yet, and have never really been authentically digital. On another note, Killian warned that the anthropomorphizing of robotics as a way to move forward is a false promise. Lastly, Ponce de León, upon receiving the 2018 Teaching Award of Excellence, illustrated her broader ambitions for digital fabrication from a pedagogical and professional point of view. She argued that the two must be intertwined in order to productively engage with professional and academic architecture. Other thinkers and designers contributed to this discussion with their own predictions and convictions of where the field is headed. This meta-discussion is most essential for the future of the conference. Theoretical and extra-disciplinary discourse sets the tone for the speculative fronts of the next conference, and the evolution of its ambitions for many more to come. Work that explores aesthetic potentials in new technologies The second category of the conference, broadly speaking, can be characterized as an intermediary between the more theoretically-oriented work and work embedded in deep studies of technology, borrowing critical aspects from both. Many participants that plug into this territory discussed projects executed at the pavilion scale. What distinguishes this work from the purely technical or scientific experiments is that many of the projects synthesize serious visual problems and broader research themes. A great example of this type is Jenny Sabin’s Lumen project for the MoMA PS1 pavilion. Lumen, a robotic knitting project, demonstrates multiple layers of tremendous effort and research. While the project showcases deep fabrication/material knowledge, one cannot help but notice its balancing act between material performance optimization (robotic knitting, custom analysis software, form-finding simulation) and an equally sincere interest in visual studies (composition, lighting, color). Other exemplary practices represented at the conference operating in the same mode are Oyler Wu Collaborative, Matsys, Stephanie Chaltiel and Maite Bravo, Chandler Ahrens, Tsz Yan Ng, and many others as featured in the proceeding's publications. Deep dives into technology and science This last category, central to the overall theme of the conference, is probably closest to the initial ambitions of ACADIA as it was originally conceived. It is fair to say that almost all the projects participate in technologically-driven research and scholarship. However, a few of them focus on a more scientific approach; their project ambitions seem to culminate in the search for novel processes. The evaluation of such projects is perhaps the most speculative because the criteria are abstract and yet to be discovered. Philippe Block, one of the keynote speakers and a professor at the Institute of Technology in Architecture at ETH Zurich, presented a very thorough research project centered on the use of concrete and its capacities for structural integrity and material thickness (or thinness). Another interesting example was Madeline Gannon’s research. Upon receiving the Innovative Research Award of Excellence, Gannon presented her work on synchronized, real-time robotic motion. Her work takes form in unique environments (trade shows, gallery exhibitions, and biennales), but what was most interesting about her investigation was the custom workflows and software that she developed during her time at Autodesk’s Pier 9 space. Dr. Gannon’s interface design supports the exchange of information between different parts of machines that were never meant to communicate with one another—introducing a new type of cross-contamination of machine vision and reactive motion. During the last five-plus years, the workshop segment of the conference has been heavily focused on this last category (tech/engineering/computation). The 2018 workshop series, hosted by the Facultad de Arquitectura at UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) however, was more balanced and plural by comparison; solar optimization and robotic spray-painting workshops were held in tandem. The workshops held true to the theme of the conference and interrogated various recalibrations through concentrated production-events. In the workshops, leaders investigated a reassessment of machine and software-thinking related to visual ideas, specific projects, and scientific research. Final thoughts and thinking ahead to next year’s event Of course, it is important to note that the three categories outlined above are inextricably intertwined with one another. One of ACADIA’s strengths is that it provides a unique platform for these conversations to occur under the umbrella of computation’s presence in the expanded territory of contemporary architecture. Perhaps the project that best illustrates a scenario that accommodates these three modes of thinking in a non-hierarchical manner was presented by another keynote speaker, the Mexican-born, electronic artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer. For Lozano-Hemmer, the artwork is not simply a thing on display but an interactive environment that promotes human-machine symbiosis. For example, Population Theatre (2016) is a beautifully orchestrated collection of self-inflicted responsibilities. In this work, a highly diverse team of artists and scientists collaborate to generate funds to support a politically-driven project. Population Theatre is technologically-supported by the use of 3651 Raspberry Pi boards to create 7.5 billion points of light. This exceptional keynote lecture was accessible to the public and was held at the Alberto Kalach and Juan Palomar–designed Biblioteca Vasconcelos in downtown Mexico City. It was events such as Lozano-Hemmer’s keynote lecture that made this year’s gathering extraordinary. The organization and curatorial efforts for the 2018 conference were impeccable. It was very clear that the board of directors (comprising 20 members) and the president of ACADIA, Kathy Velikov’s ambitions were to widen the scope of the conference as a pedagogical and professional platform and to challenge the organization to evolve with the discipline. This year’s conference was heavily supported by industrial and academic sponsors, and by the Universidad Iberoamericana, which hosted the workshop series, the project exhibition, and the first day of the conference. Next year’s conference will be held from October 24 to 26, 2019, at the University of Texas at Austin and is titled "Ubiquity and Autonomy".
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Zaha Hadid Architects launches a collaborative VR experiment

Virtual reality is often an individual experience, with one user shaping and traversing a preprogrammed digital realm. But what if complete strangers could gather together within the virtual realm to construct an architectural edifice? Project Correl is an experiment by the Zaha Hadid Virtual Reality Group (ZHVR) in what it describes as “multi-presence virtual reality,” where users can collaborate on an ever-changing sculptural form. Project Correl is a feature of the larger Design as Second Nature exhibition found in Mexico City’s Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC), which features photographs, paintings, models, and other mediums highlighting the firm’s in-house technological research. As part of the exhibition, Zaha Hadid Architects’ Computation and Design group collaborated with ETH Zurich to create a 13-foot-tall curved concrete shell formed with a 3-D-knitted framework, dubbed KnitCandela. The VR experiment allows up to four visitors at a time to roam a digital space and manipulate objects found within. The overarching objective for the participants is the collaborative construction of a virtual structure. Over the course of the three-month-long exhibition, successive waves of visitors will immerse themselves in the continually adapting construct, imprinting it with their own personal elements along the way. Collaboration between participants is encouraged by the program's software; components directly attached to the primary structure within the simulation will remain throughout the course of the experiment. Stand-alone objects must be connected to growing clusters of user-assembled edifices to last throughout the exhibition. Objects that remain solitary will be periodically eliminated from the virtual space. Throughout the running of Project Correl, ZHVR will capture the altering iterations of the experiment and 3-D-print models for display within the exhibition. To create and operate the virtual reality engine, ZHVR worked with Unreal Engine, HP Virtual Reality Solutions, and HTC VIVE. The latter is a novel virtual reality platform allowing for in-depth room-scale, real-time interactions. Project Correl and Design as Second Nature will be on display until March 3, 2019.
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Mexico’s new leader turns “haunted” palace into public park and puts presidential jet up for sale

As part of an effort to fulfill campaign promises of rooting out corruption and re-inviting the public to participate in the country’s electoral politics, Mexico’s new president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, threw open the gates of the nation’s secretive presidential palace for the first time in over 80 years.  Dubbed by some as the “Mexican Bernie Sanders” for his Leftist bona fides and populist messaging, Obrador—who is known colloquially by his initials as AMLO—invited the public to enjoy the 5,000-square-foot home and its expansive grounds amid inaugural celebrations over the weekend. The move is among the new Mexican president’s first official acts and includes converting the Bosque de Chapultepec–adjacent palace into a museum and cultural complex that will be free to the public. Plans call for converting an existing movie screening area in the palace into a community arts space, for example. AMLO has referred to the palace as a “haunted” place in the past and has vowed to continue living in his current home through 2019 when one of his young children will finish the current school year. The palace dates back to 1550 when it was built as a colonia-era flour mill and has been used as the official presidential residence since the 1930s. During its history, the residence has largely remained hidden from public view but under Mexico’s new regime, the public is finally getting a first-hand look. https://twitter.com/gobiernomx/status/1069378866441990145?s=21 But that’s not all. AMLO also plans to sell the nation’s presidential Boeing 787 Dreamliner airplane and has vowed to fly commercial for official trips. A government-sponsored Twitter account posted a sale notice for the “seminuevo” jet over the weekend, though a price was not listed. Keep an eye out on Mexico City’s controversial and recently-canceled airport by Foster + Partners. Rumors began flying online over the weekend regarding whether the project—which is roughly 1/3 of the way built—was officially canceled or not. As Mexico begins the difficult process of paying back the investors who have already sunk money into the project ahead of an ambitious public and private-public works effort by AMLO, there will likely be more news on the airport and its fate.
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Zaha Hadid Architects and ETH Zurich team up to build a knitted formwork concrete pavilion

Located in Mexico City’s Museo Universitario Arte Contemporaneo, KnitCandela is a 13-foot-tall curved concrete shell formed with a 3-D-knitted framework. The sculptural project is a collaboration between Zaha Hadid Architects' Computation and Design Group (ZHCODE), ETH Zurich’s Block Research Group (BRG) led by Philippe Block and Tom Van Mele with PhD student Mariana Popescu, and Mexico’s Architecture Extrapolated who managed the on-site execution of the project. Named in homage to the concrete-bending designs of architect and structural engineer Félix Candela, the pavilion rests on three parabolic arches, with interior threadwork fashioned to resemble traditional garb found in the federal state of Jalisco, 340 miles northwest of the country’s capital. The pavilion is an outdoor feature of the museum's new exhibition, Design as Second Nature, featuring four decades of Zaha Hadid Architects' (ZHA) research into construction technology and design innovation. The project builds upon ETH Zurich's numerous recent forays into lightweight concrete structures based on curved geometries and digitally designed formwork. Currently, the university is leading KnitCrete, a partnership with the Swiss National Centre for Competence in Research in Digital Fabrication, to boost the technological expertise and production of hybrid and ultra-lightweight concrete structures. Past projects include an experimental concrete roof cast on 3-D printed sand formwork and an ultralight roof cap composed of a polymer textile and a network of steel cables. According to ETH Zurich, Block and Van Mele’s research group plugged a digitally generated pattern into an industrial knitting machine to produce the formwork. Over the course of 36 hours, the flat-bedded mechanism knitted over 200 miles of polyester yarn into four 3-D double-layered strips. To suspend the canopy, the upper layer of the textile bears a series of sleeves for the insertion of supporting cables. Additionally, the woven formwork integrated 1,000 inflatable modeling balloons that were transformed into waffle shell-like voids following the initial coating of concrete. The entire woven assembly, weighing a meager 55 pounds, was transported to the location via two suitcases stowed as normal checked baggage. Once onsite, the double-layered textile was tensioned between a steel-and-wood boundary frame and subjected to an initial millimeters-thick concrete coating. After hardening and the creation of a lightweight mold, the team poured five tons of fiber-reinforced concrete over the original 120-pound polyester-and-cable framework. The pavilion will remain in place until March 3, 2019.
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Foster + Partners’ Mexico City airport scrapped by public referendum

Mexico City’s new Foster + Partners–designed airport has been canceled while already under construction. In a referendum today voters rejected the partially completed project that’s been beleaguered by accusations of corruption, ecological irresponsibility, and lack of community involvement. The referendum was originally proposed by Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the president-elect of Mexico, as popular opposition grew against the project that was approved by President Enrique Peña Nieto in 2014. Not only was the project, called NAICM (Nuevo Aeropuerto Internacional de la Ciudad de México), deemed inordinately expensive at an estimated USD$13 billion, its location was less than ideal. The wetland plain of Texcoco outside the city that it was to be built on is quite literally sinking—as much as 16 inches a year. Not only does building the airport require thick supports, like much of Mexico City, which was built on former lakes dredged by the colonizing Spaniards five centuries ago, but it the area accommodates stormwater runoff for the city, requiring a complicated and expensive system of plumbing, tunnels, and canals to manage potential flooding. Furthering the environmental infeasibility is the impact it would have had on numerous bird species as well as its effect of exacerbating the decline of the city’s already dwindling water supplies. As Fernando Córdova, a professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico told Alto Nivel as later reported in translation in Citylab: “It’s just the worst terrain.” USD$5 billion has already been put into the airport, which was designed to handle the ever-increasing traffic through North America’s most populous city, which also serves as a travel hub for much of the rest of Mexico and Latin America. The mega-project, which would’ve been the third largest airport in the world and the most expansive in all of the Americas, was noteworthy for its six million square-foot main terminal designed in a sci-fi X-shape with a sweeping canopy. The no vote won by a large margin, with 70 percent voting in opposition of completing the project, though, as others have noted, voter turnout for the referendum was underwhelming, with only around 1 in 90 registered voters turning out to the polls. Those opposed argued that the project was being built and developed by contractors and other parties as a series of political favors to line each other’s pockets. Still, regardless of the fate of NAICM, Mexico City needs a new airport. The current main airport, Benito Juárez International, is operating 50 percent over capacity and the strain on it is only growing. López Obrador and others have supported a significantly cheaper project that uses existing infrastructure by converting part of the Santa Lucía air force base into a commercial terminal. As for the thwarted Foster + Projects design, it was reported in The Washington Post that López Obrador suggested turning the remains of the unfinished airport into “a big sports and ecological center for Mexico City.”
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Design Week Mexico highlights the country’s rising design stars

As part of the 10th edition of Design Week Mexico, happening now through October 28, Mexico City’s Museo Tamayo is hosting the INÉDITO exhibition, which highlights the work of emerging design practices across Mexico. In its fourth iteration, the show includes 80 design pieces ranging from jewelry and fashion to flatware and furniture. Across the wide range of products in the show, there are a few common threads that run through much work. In many of the pieces, fine hand-crafted detailing and rich natural materials are used to great effect. The jewelry of fourth-generation craftsman Iker Ortiz uses marbled Corian and gold, and Mexico City–based jewelry studio María Mariscal collaborated with Taller de Obsidiana using fine gold plating to expand its work into a full set of dining flatware. The level of detail continues through to larger pieces in the show as well. Furniture pieces by both LANZA Atelier and Claudia Suarez Ahedo both deploy smooth filleted forms in wood and aluminum. LANZA Atelier, which primarily practices as an architecture firm, produced a two-person nesting set of chairs and a table for the exhibition. Entitled Tête à tête, the piece is made of neatly joined banak wood and MDF, and when closed, forms a single smooth compact unit. The chair produced by Milan, Italy–based Mexican architect, Claudia Suarez Ahedo, is inspired by the strength and sensibility of Mexican women. Aluminum was chosen for its strength and flexibility, while the light desaturated salmon color was chosen to complement the smooth form. Along with the showcase of work, awards were announced in a number of categories. Taking the top award was Alejandro Martínez Jaime, with his project Recybloq, which transforms construction waste into new building blocks. For the exhibition, the up-cycled parallelogram blocks are arranged into a small vaulted pavilion. Each year Design Week Mexico has grown as more institutions and the public have joined in on the events. The opening ceremonies for this year’s events, also held at Museo Tamayo, attracted thousands. Other venues include the neighboring Museo Nacional de Antropología, where contemporary works directly influenced by traditional Mexican craft were on display. Throughout the city, design galleries and showrooms also took part with special events and displays. On top of that, Mexico City has been named the 2018 World Design Capital by UNESCO. The level of engagement points to a healthy design community in Mexico City with a bright future.
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AN interviews six emerging designers to watch

Who are the names you need to know? Who are the designers to watch? These six up-and-coming talents in architecture and design should be on your radar. Alda Ly New York City Alda Ly likes a good piece of custom millwork. “I like to think about the purposefulness of each cut,” she says. Her namesake practice is built around a similar mission. “We’re pursuing end-user research to develop a more human-centered approach with our designs.” For Ly, both qualitative and quantitative data are imperative to design spaces that break the molds of conventional architectural programs. She designed the Wing’s private women-only professional clubs for flexibility, knowing that users might be recording a podcast on one day, and on another, working solo on their laptops. In this way, she sees herself beholden not only to the client, but also to the client’s stakeholders. Ly has made a name for herself by designing shared spaces, from incubators to offices and apartments. Most recently, the firm designed Bulletin, a store merchandising products from female-led brands that features a social area and a venue for live programming. “There are an infinite amount of situations you have to plan for, but a key point is knowing how to make people feel comfortable.” –Jordan Hruska Brian Thoreen LA/Mexico City “I didn’t really know what I was doing,” said Brian Thoreen. Reflecting on the first show where he unveiled his namesake furniture company at the Sight Unseen outpost during Collective Design in 2015, he admitted: “I was thrown in the deep end—I didn’t even know how to price the pieces.” Since then, Thoreen has gone on to show his works several times at Design Miami, create custom commissions, and be the subject of the first solo exhibit at Patrick Parrish. All of this was born out of his new focus on furniture and a recent move to Mexico City—both of which he was able to fully commit to after leaving his L.A.-based architecture practice, Thoreen+Ritter. In the context of “being somewhere else,” Thoreen now finds himself collaborating with local artists, including Hector Esrawe and Emiliano Godoy on a sculptural series of metal furnishings accentuated by hand-blown amorphous orbs of glass. The material will continue to be at the heart of his future work in a new studio, which he formed with Esrawe and Godoy to continue to collaborate their collaboration on glass and metal projects. As for his own studio, Thoreen also plans to design installations, spaces, and architecture where he can continue work with local artists. –Gabrielle Golenda CAMESgibson Chicago CAMESgibson is a Chicago-based partnership between Grant Gibson and the fictitious late T.E. Cames. Gibson, also a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) School of Architecture, works at multiple scales, from small residential rehabs to a popular community arts center. The practice is not limited to conventional built work. Some of the office’s exhibition work includes a 20-foot-tall quilted column installed in the Graham Foundation foyer and a skyscraper design in collaboration with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill at the 2015 Chicago Architecture Biennial. In each of its projects, a playful sensibility fills spaces with color and soft forms. A recent project involved converting a laundry room into a cool ethereal lounge for the UIC basketball team. Deep blue tones and carefully controlled lighting brand the space instead of the typical kitschy, logo-laden locker rooms of most teams. It is this approach to cleverly transforming spaces, whether they are institutional or private, that sets CAMESgibson apart from the average small practice. –Matthew Messner Material Lust New York City Partners in life and partners in practice, Lauren Larson and Christian Lopez Swafford are indifferent to mass production timelines and trends. Together, they work with artisans to conjure otherworldly objects that cross the boundary between sculpture and decorative art, producing a series of furniture with true grit. Known as Material Lust, their Lower East Side-based company was officially established in 2014 but began long before that. It has been producing works that reflect the historical context of design, including the Alchemy Altar Candelabra inspired by pagan and alchemical symbolism; and the Fictional Furniture Collection of gender-neutral, monochromatic children’s furniture inspired by surrealism. Now the pair is venturing into lighting with their new sister company, Orphan Work. As the story goes, it began when they found lost designs from the Material Lust archive and after they visited Venice’s Olivetti Shop, by Carlo Scarpa. The result? A collection that is somewhere between Scarpa’s richly layered forms and the couple’s unapologetically “metal” aesthetic, with nods to both the musical genre and the material itself. –GG MILLIØNS Los Angeles Los Angeles–based MILLIØNS dubs itself an “experimental architectural practice” that liberally explores space-making as a “speculative medium” that can be manifested in any number of objects, structures, or experiences. Founded by Zeina Koreitem and John May, the growing practice recently designed a communal wash basin that aims to reintroduce shared social interactions into the act of bathing for an exhibition at Friedman Benda gallery in New York City. In the show, a 3-D printed mass reveals itself as a fluted drum containing a sink and a slender, brass spigot that is approachable from all sides. Though better known for writing heady treatises and engineering glitchy, digital media works that use televisions and closed-circuit cameras to create new spatial dimensions, MILLIØNS has some more grounded works on the way. A forthcoming, Graham Foundation–supported exhibition designed and curated by the duo that aims to revitalize the experimental spirit of modernist housing, for example, is headed to L.A.’s A+D Museum early next year. MILLIØNS also has several brick-and-mortar projects on the way, including a retail storefront in Manhattan and a lake house in upstate New York. ­­–Antonio Pacheco Savvy Studio NYC/Mexico City Savvy Studio, an interiors and branding firm with offices in New York City and Mexico City, has been busy this summer with an array of projects popping up in New York. It has just launched a Tribeca seafood restaurant (A Summer Day Cafe) which features a beachy interior with light woods, primary-colored metal accents, and of course, nautical stripes. The studio also redesigned Alphabet City mainstay Mast Books using plywood to elevate the space, making it a “gallery of books, rather than simply another bookstore.” And by combining interior architecture with visuals befitting a fashion campaign, Savvy Studio developed branding language, communications, and interiors of the rental offices and showrooms for the Mercedes House, a Hell’s Kitchen luxury condo designed by TEN Arquitectos. Founder and creative director Rafael Prieto points out that there are “no specific boundaries” between branding and interior design. “The reason we do both is based on our interest in creating and designing experiences, and being able to make an impact in every interaction.” For Savvy Studio, their multifaceted practice is about making sure each space or branded element is simultaneously “emotional, aesthetic, and functional.” ­–Drew Zieba
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Mexico City’s public sculpture corridor is a broken dream worth saving

Soon after Mexico City was designated to host the 1968 Olympics, the idea of a year-long cultural program emerged—one which would come to shape the ethos of the games for years to come. Hinting at the Greek Olympics’ legacy, the Mexican Cultural Olympiad would deploy 20 cultural events and projects throughout the year while promoting a modern discourse of peace at a time when the cold war profoundly divided the world. As part of the program, the Polish-born, Mexican artist and architect Mathias Goeritz (who coined the concept of “Emotional Architecture” with Luis Barragán) proposed an ambitious public sculptures route integrated with the city as a way to respond to its rapid urbanization. La Ruta de la Amistad (or the Route of Friendship), as it was named, would offer new ways of navigating the capital while making art available to the masses and celebrating international dialogue. The proposal was received with great enthusiasm from the chair of the Mexican Olympic Organizing Committee, the influential architect Pedro Ramírez Vázquez. In the lead-up to the Olympics, a total of 22 sculptures were commissioned from 19 artists and architects, including the Uruguayan artist Gonzalo Fonseca, the French artist Olivier Seguin, the American sculptor Alexander Calder, and the Mexican sculptor Ángela Gurría. Goeritz’s curatorial brief was simple: All sculptures should be abstract, of monumental scale, and use concrete as their main material. The project would become the largest sculptural thoroughfare in the world, connecting Olympics venues across a distance of 11 miles—and a great source of pride for Mexico. However, a week and a half before the official start of the games, the route, like the rest of the Cultural Olympiad, was obscured by the Massacre of Tlatelolco, in which the Mexican military and the police killed at least 300 students and civilians protesting government repression and corruption. Politicians, used to controlling every aspect of Mexican society, showed little patience for the demonstrations, which they feared would damage their cherished reputation as Olympics hosts. For the government, the games had become a platform to project its progressive, modern ideals and to challenge the perception that it was a developing country. Fifty years on, the sculptures stand neglected, in a state of near decay, like the remnants of a broken dream. “In Mexico, the route isn’t seen as something important. Not for the people, nor the government,” lamented Luis Javier de la Torre, president of Patronato Ruta de la Amistad, as he toured us around its principal site, now overshadowed by the infamous Periferico, a dystopic, elevated highway crossing the city. The organization he cofounded in 1994 with Javier Ramírez Campuzano (the son of Ramírez Vázquez) is in charge of conserving the sculptures and promoting their legacy. Prior to this, the route was largely abandoned and subjected to vandalism. The Patronato was able to restore and relocate a number of pieces at risk of deterioration, creating a centralized location composed of 13 works between 2011 and 2013. To mark the Route’s 50th anniversary, the Patronato is launching a number of activities with partner organizations on a shoestring budget. The Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes is opening an exhibition about it this October, scheduled to coincide with Design Week Mexico (October 10 to 15). Meanwhile, the official program of World Design Capital Mexico City 2018 has incorporated educational projects to bring awareness to the route. “Its values live on,” argued de la Torre. So why does the route fail to receive the public interest and support it deserves? According to de la Torre, a combination of a conflicted sense of national identity, a lack of understanding, and the collective trauma of 1968 are responsible. “We don’t have a proper identity as a country,” he explained, nodding to Mexican poet Octavio Paz’s The Labyrinth of Solitude, a series of essays that discusses the existential tension between colonial and indigenous cultures in the country. “No one believed that as a society we were capable of running the Olympics in ways that would be replicated by others around the world,” he continued. Most important, the political turmoil associated with 1968 overbearingly shaped the country’s consciousness of that moment. “This is where the dream broke,” said Mexican architect Frida Escobedo, this year’s Serpentine Pavilion designer, when we visited her studio. At the recent Biennale d’Architecture d’Orléans, Escobedo revisited the Ruta de la Amistad by presenting a reproduction of the metal frame behind the sculpture by Olivier Seguin. The precarious-looking, welded steel structure—now permanently installed at Le Parc Floral de La Source in Orléans, France—was inspired by an installation shot of the original work, which the architect discovered while visiting the archives of the FRAC Centre in France. “The picture presented the reality of 1968,” Escobedo recounted, reflecting on the ambiguous promise of modernism in the construction of Mexico’s national identity. “It’s all a spectacle.” “We haven’t been able to separate things,” explained de la Torre of the troubled legacy of 1968. “I think that now, there is an opportunity for both narratives to coexist.” But should the Olympics’ cultural legacy really be separated from its political context? Before the army opened fire at the crowd on October 2, 1968, anti-government protesters were chanting, “¡No queremos olimpiadas, queremos revolución!” (“We don't want the Olympics, we want a revolution!”)
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Foster + Partners’ Mexico City airport could be cancelled by referendum

Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the president-elect of Mexico, recently announced that the fate of the new Mexico City airport designed by Foster + Partners will be decided by a public referendum to be held in October of this year. Mexican citizens will be able to decide in a vote whether or not the airport should be canceled. López Obrador, or AMLO as he is also known, led a fiery campaign for president. He trumpeted leftist and populists messages while attacking corruption that he said was endemic in the Mexican government. The New Mexico City International Airport (NAICM) was, he said, mismanaged and marked by excessive and wasteful spending, and he promised to shut down the project if elected. López Obrador has proposed that an existing military airbase be converted to civilian use instead of completing construction on the new airport. The vote is scheduled for the last week of October even though López Obrador will not formally take office until December 1 of this year. The project, which was won by Foster + Partners in 2014, is well under construction, and stopping it now would mean losing about US$5 billion already spent. The project is estimated to cost US$13 billion in total, and its first phase has been scheduled to open in 2020. Foster + Partners' design features a massive undulating canopy with an exposed space frame underneath. In renderings, the roof surface allows dappled light to come through large open spans between large footings where the canopy touches down to the ground. Arup is the project's structural engineer, Mexican firm fr-ee is the local collaborating architect, and Grupo de Diseno Urbano is the landscape architect. The airport is planned to handle 66 million passengers annually and cover an area of approximately eight million square feet.
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Mónica Ponce de León and Oyler Wu Collaborative are among 2018 ACADIA Award winners

ACADIA, or the Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture, established the ACADIA Awards of Excellence to recognize outstanding individuals and practices that think critically about the impact and possibilities of computer-aided design. This year, the ACADIA Awards recipients, including Mónica Ponce de León and Oyler Wu Collaborative, will present their work at the conference titled Recalibration: On Imprecision and Infidelity at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City from October 18–20. Dean of Princeton University School of Architecture Mónica Ponce de León won the Teaching Award of Excellence. Ponce de León is a Venezuelan-American architect who is also a renowned educator. She is the founding principal of MPdL Studio, which has officesin New York, Boston, and Ann Arbor. Prior to her deanship at Princeton, she was dean of University of Michigan’s Taubman College and a professor at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design (GSD). The awards committee commended her for the “integration of digital technologies into architectural education.” Jenny Wu and Dwayne Oyler, partners at Oyler Wu Collaborative, were awarded with the Digital Practice Award of Excellence. The L.A.-based, award-winning firm is widely recognized for its expertise in material research and digital fabrication. The firm is known for projects such as The Exchange in Columbus, IN, the 2013 Beijing Biennale installation named The Cube, and their installations and pavilions with SCI-Arc. The partners are both currently teaching at SCI-Arc and Harvard GSD. Other awards included the Innovative Academic Program Award of Excellence, given to the Institute of Advanced Architecture Catalonia; the Innovative Research Award of Excellence bestowed upon NVIDIA robotics researcher Dr. Madeline Gannon; and the Society Award of Excellence won by Association for Robots in Architecture co-founders Sigrid Brell-Cokcan and Johannes Braumann. Check out the complete list of winners here.