Posts tagged with "Mexico City":

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Inside the rising Mexico City–based practice of Frida Escobedo

The Architectural League’s Emerging Voices award and lecture series spotlight individuals and firms with distinct design “voices” that have the potential to influence the discipline of architecture, landscape architecture, and urban design. The jury, composed of Sunil Bald, Mario Gooden, Lisa Gray, Paul Lewis, Jing Liu, Thomas Phifer, Bradley Samuels, Billie Tsien, and Ian Volner, selected architects and designers who have significant bodies of realized work that creatively address larger issues in the built environment.

The Architect’s Newspaper featured the Emerging Voices firms in our February issue; stay tuned as we upload those articles to our website over the coming weeks. The firm featured below (Mexico City, Mexico–based Frida Escobedowill deliver their lecture on March 2, 2017, at The Architecture League in New York City. Click here to learn more!

Mexico City–based architect Frida Escobedo has only ever worked for herself. A graduate of Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City, and the Arts, Design, and the Public Domain program at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Escobedo cofounded her first office, Perro Rojo, in 2003.   

In 2006, she began her eponymous firm, realizing a trend-setting rehabilitation and reinterpretation for the Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros’s home and studio that utilized screened walls made up of breezeblocks. Casa Negra, built in 2007, is a slightly deconstructivist sentinel clad in black panels that straddles a bluff overlooking a rural road from Mexico City to Cuernavaca. In 2013, her studio conceived of a circular, weighted plaza sculpture for the Lisbon Architecture Triennale. Escobedo explained, “Our work goes from the scale of furniture to something larger.” Escobedo’s Aesop store in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood similarly plays into that teleology. In the small storefront, she manipulates the scale of objects and vistas through reflection. Bathed in an ochre light, the shop is divided by a series of reflective, glass partitions and is populated by sections of boulders and tropical Monstera deliciosa plants. Here, prismatic color and reflected silhouettes distort scale.

Escobedo’s more recent work expands the senses even further. A recently completed screen at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University is crafted from Solanum steel and designed to create melodies. The rhythmic tapping made by children running sticks across railings inspired the installation—a halcyon tendency Escobedo ties to ideas of coming home. She explained that the structure is “not only perceived visually… You can play with the screen as you move along it and the closed fragments produce different sounds.” 

Escobedo’s eight-person office is currently working on two social housing projects: One in the rural area of Taxco in the Mexican state of Guerrero will take the shape of an incremental housing scheme, while another in the town of Saltillo is made up of rowhouses. Regarding both projects, Escobedo said, “We’re trying to do as much as possible with as little as possible while also reducing as much as possible the debt of the people who are acquiring these properties,” the architect explained. The Taxco scheme will ultimately result in a fully-built out home, featuring a double-height room that can be subdivided vertically as the resident family grows. According to Escobedo, the goal of the scheme was “to optimize the subsidized credit [provided by INFONAVIT, the housing developer] by first building what is most costly and therefore what will give more value over time; and second to provide people with a finished building, that is sometimes more encouraging and gives the sense of completion.”

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Talking public space with Jan Gehl in Mexico City

Mexico City is the largest city in North America and has been around since the 14th century, when the Aztecs settled the area. Many layers of history, culture, and development both private and public can be seen in its rich architecture and urbanism. Crumbles of pyramids abut Spanish cathedrals and huge modernist housing blocks, foregrounded by spectacular parks, statues, and fountains from the various periods in the history of the region. However, along with the complex history comes a complex city. The organizers of CoRe Foro Urbano CDMX 2016, a two-day summit of experts from the development, policy, design, and transportation sectors, cited this complexity and a perceived lack of leadership among the Mexico City's many stakeholders as the impetus for getting together and addressing its multi-faceted challenges. The main initiator of the conference was Kaluz, "a diversified conglomerate of companies active in the following sectors: industry, construction materials, and financial services." They worked with the Planning Commission of Mexico City and the Delegacion Cuauhtmoc (the local borough government) to realize the forum, which is organized into four panels: Mobility, Public Space, Citizenship and Responsibility, and Zoning and Diverse City. It was not structured as lectures or talks, but more of a series of roundtable discussions that were aimed directly at the problems of Mexico City, and how each can be addressed with real solutions. This is part two of our series, "Urbanism in Mexico City," reported live from the discussion.  Mexico City has an abundance of public space and is a leader in this way. For residents and the government, it is an important part of the city and includes parks, plazas, fountain squares, or large sidewalks along the boulevards. The city even has a Public Space Authority and a Program for Neighborhoods and Community Involvement. Architect and author of Cities for People Jan Gehl, in his keynote, railed against the excesses of modernist planning, including its out-of-scale urban developments such as Brasilia, and its lack of human-scale interaction at street level. He showed images of cold, haunting modernist schemes and juxtaposed them with their supposed goals, such as the creation of erotic space. He also pointed out that the car had an adverse impact on cities, "totally overwhelming" them. He cited Jane Jacobs as a prominent voice in criticizing this era. In 1961, she published her book The Death and Life of Great American Cities, only one year after Gehl graduated from architecture school. Gehl said that over the last 50 years we have finally learned how to design cities. However, he cites the Piazza del Campo Siena in Tuscany as the best public space in the world, which was made over 700 years ago. But it has the 12 human-scale, people-oriented qualities that Gehl seeks, which bring protection, comfort, and enjoyment. Today, Gehl says that we need a lively, livable, sustainable, and healthy city. Ethan Kent of the Project for Public Spaces said that public spaces were included on the Habitat III New Urban Agenda, the document that sets forth a path for thinking about the 21st-century city and how it will be formed. He noted that a place is best when it has ten or more uses. "There is more support for public spaces here than anywhere else I have been," Kent said. He explained his theory of place-led development that comes from engagement with the users to define the program at the outset. Architect Tatiana Bilbao is interested in designing not only for those coming to shop or pass through an area, but those who live nearby. These intended publics, says Muller Garcia, secretary of environment for Mexico City, must be properly programmed, but also cared for by those who feel ownership in them, in order to make sure the targeted publics are the ones who end up enjoying them. Francisco (Pakiko) Paillie Perez of derive LAB noted that while we need rules and regulations to assure access for all people, those laws come with many territorial designations that are dangerous, especially because it is not always clear who makes these rules and what ends they may serve. As for the private sector, developer Guillermo Buitano pointed out that while it is possible to make private places public, developers should look past their own projects to determine their sphere of influence. Amy Kaufman of AK Cultural Planning suggested that the strength of public space is that it can gather a range of people into one vibrant place that reflects the culture of the community through the engagement of artists who can enliven spaces through a process-oriented approach, much like Kent's place-led development that starts with program. For Mexico City, the public space needs to be safe, says Perez, and that means cutting down on attacks on women, and also on moving the informal vendors into the street and off of the sidewalk. All in all, Mexico City is in good shape for public space, and with people focused on keeping them that way as the waves of change inevitably alter the city.
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What is the future of transportation in Mexico City?

Mexico City is the largest city in North America and has been around since the 14th century when the Aztecs settled the area. Many layers of history, culture, and development—both private and public—can be seen in its rich architecture and urbanism. Crumbles of pyramids abut Spanish cathedrals and huge modernist housing blocks, foregrounded by spectacular parks, statues, and fountains from the various periods in the history of the region. However, along with the complex history comes a complex city. The organizers of CoRe Foro Urbano CDMX 2016, a two-day summit of experts from the development, policy, design, and transportation sectors, cited this complexity and a perceived lack of leadership among the different stakeholders as the impetus for getting together and addressing the multi-faceted challenges of the city. The main initiator of the conference was Kaluz, "a diversified conglomerate of companies active in the following sectors: industry, construction materials, and financial services." They worked with the Planning Commission of Mexico City and the Delegacion Cuauhtmoc (the local borough government) to realize the forum, which is organized into four panels: Mobility, Public Space, Citizenship and Responsibility, and Zoning and Diverse City. It was not structured as lectures or talks, but more of a series of roundtable discussions that were aimed directly at the problems of Mexico City, and how each can be addressed with real solutions. This is part one of our series, "Urbanism in Mexico City," reported live from the discussion.  The first panel focused on transportation, which for Mexico City is seen as a hinderance to development, as the public systems are not as robust as in London or New York. Mexico City has developed along long corridors that have been around since it was founded, and in the 1860s, these large streets became boulevards, as was the European tradition. Development followed these main arteries, but the car came along and made them less effective for the city. While the city has adapted and incorporated cycle lanes and sidewalks on the main areas, gentrification has brought more traffic. Riccardo Marini of Gehl Architects pointed out that this is not just about livable cites, but also about the species-scale problem of burning fossil fuels. Camilla Ween of Transport for London explained how some of the best projects in central London are smaller-scale pedestrianization projects and connections rather than big technical undertakings. Architect and urbanist Jan Gehl agreed that cities are not great for cities, and took it a step further: Shared cars and autonomous cars are no better than single-driver cars, which were perhaps a good idea on the open ranges 100 years ago, but are bad for people and the environment. He is optimistic that we are winning, and that the future is bright for public transportation, although it will require big commitments. Planning, real estate, and transportation consultant Andres Sanudo cited parking lots as a big problem for Mexico City. The money that private developers spend on parking lots could build a huge amount of public transport, while also encouraging people to get rid of cars and take them off the road. Their solution is to change the codes to have maximums for parking spaces in developments rather than minimums. Michael Kodransky of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy said that minimums also prevent the city from densifying, and that densifying a city gives it the resources and users for public transportation. Edgar Farah of 5M2 noted that while public transport allows more access for the young and the poor, it is also important to have a range of transport systems for a range of people. "The main problem of mobility in the city is that we have made many people go away," he said. Sanudo agreed with this statement, saying "How do we get those people—that the market has driven out—back into the city without distorting the market?" For Mexico City, connections to the metro area are a challenge for the future, as many of the workers in the central districts commute over two hours to work. Florencia Serrania of Prodi said that reducing that by even 30 minutes with better transport, signage, and connections would make a big difference. The metropolis of over 23 million has to become a connected and mobile city to be one that is accessible to all of the populations. The participants each suggested an action they would implement first, which included:

Give over half of the streets to bikes and walkers.

Make people give up cars for a short period of time.

Commit to the Metro system (subways and buses).

Build things for the people who build the towers.

Limit the number of plates that could be issued and make it an auction.

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The Mexico City designers forging a new path beyond modernism

Mexico City is the fifth largest city in the world, with over 17 million inhabitants. There, below the looming volcanic peaks of Popōcatepētl, a rising cadre of young designers is making its mark on this ancient megalopolis. Yes, the city’s architecture schools like Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and Universidad Iberoamericana are bastions of the now-classical modernism of Luis Barragán and Ricardo Legorreta. But in a metropolitan area so vast and so densely packed—Mexico City reportedly has about four times the density of New York City—handcrafted and informal solutions are never out of reach. It’s within this tense, sweet spot that Mexico City designers truly excel: By combining high-design references with homespun folk art, designers are able to create works that are contemporary, but also contextual and artisanal, and that speak to the contested and refined realities of their home city. With a grab bag of contemporary stylistic influences coupled with the methodical pedagogy of their elders, the current generation of designers is quickly moving past the orthodoxy of the city’s Modernismo traditions toward new enterprises that blend design, architecture, and furniture. The city will host Design Week Mexico from October 5-9, 2016, will be the WorldDesign Capital in 2018—the sixth in the program and the first North American city to be named as such.

Escobedo Soliz

Established in 2011 by classmates Lazbent Pavel Escobedo Amaral and Andres Soliz Paz, who studied architecture together at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Escobedo Soliz was awarded the prestigious 2016 Young Architects Prize (YAP) by the Museum of Modern Art for its Weaving the Courtyard project. The firm’s ethos is rooted in mining the tectonics of history and tradition to inspire contemporary designs. With its YAP installation wrapped up, the firm is moving on to tackle several architectural projects it had in the pipeline prior to winning the prize.

Frida Escobedo

Among the best known Mexico City–based architects is Frida Escobedo, a graduate of Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City, and the Arts, Design, and the Public Domain program at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. She began her namesake firm in 2006 to much acclaim. The practice is known around the world for its critically engaging architecture: Escobedo’s weighty plaza installation for the 2013 LisbonArchitecture Triennale and her dynamic reinterpretation of the Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros’s home and studio stand out for their provocative embrace of rough materiality. In many ways, Escobedo, who cofounded her first firm, Perro Rojo, in 2003 at the age of 24, has been at the forefront of expressing the latent historical and stylistic tensions that define current architecture for years. The recent adoption and proliferation of her sensibilities among this younger group of designers prove she’s been right all along.


PACA is a dynamic group composed of a revolving door of collaborators that includes architects, designers, artists, biologists, and musicians. Founded by high school friends Carlos Maldonado and Juan Pablo Viedma in 2012, PACA’s industrial design sensibilities and collaborative organizational structure allow the firm to engage in a wide array of work in a variety of media, from pottery, furniture, and sculpture, to candy, short stories, and graphic design.

Lanza Atelier

Lanza Atelier, founded by Isabel Martínez Abascal and Alessandro Arienzo in 2014, embodies the multifaceted, holistic approach to design that defines many of Mexico City’s young firms. Their work combines fine, modernist-inspired precision and methodology with everyday materials. Arienzo, who was taught by Escobedo while at Universidad Iberoamericana and later worked in her office before cofounding Lanza, said of the firm’s methodology: “We try to be more than an architecture studio. We don’t like to specialize in any one thing. Instead, we like to specialize in thinking and taking all scales into consideration.”

Pedro & Juana

Ana Paula Ruiz Galindo and Mecky Reuss, the designers behind Pedro & Juana, love to occupy contested territories, and describe themselves as “suspicious of ‘big ideas.’” Graduates of SCI-Arc and Delft University, respectively, the duo loves to jump scales. The work, which ranges from public installations and one-off productions to buildings, straddles a wide line between architectural, interior, graphic, and furniture design.

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Design Week Mexico announces cultural programming lineup

Design Week Mexico (DWM) has announced the programming schedule for its seventh annual showcase in Mexico City, Mexico. Founded in 2009 by Emilio Cabrero, Andrea Cesarman, Marco Coello, and Jaime Hernández, the multi-day, city-wide cultural event offers a wide array of exhibitions, conferences, installations, and film screenings. The design festival will take place between October 5th and 9th, with certain cultural programs, like the Museo Tamayo DWM Project, running through 2017. That exhibition will feature a three-dimensional installation in the museum’s Bosque de Chapultepec by a yet-to-be-announced invited designer. Past exhibitors for the Museo Tamayo DWM Project have included artist Tatiana Bilbao and landscape architect Pedro Sánchez Paisajismo. The festival’s Inédito exhibition will showcase emerging designers in the country’s contemporary design scene, complementing the ongoing Territorio Creativo initiative supported by DWM that helps young Mexican designers exhibit their work in foreign design fairs. DWM will host a series of special exhibitions at the Museo de Arte Moderno, including the works of Argentinian-Japanese artist Kazuya Sakai. Sakai lived in Mexico between 1965 and 1977 and the exhibition will feature works produced by the artist during his stay, with a particular focus on his Ondulaciones series, a body of work credited with introducing geometric abstraction to Mexico and inspiring the succeeding Geometrismo Mexicano style that came afterward. The works of great Mexican modernist furniture designer Don Shoemaker will be also celebrated in what is being billed as the first retrospective of his highly influential work. Shoemaker, born in Nebraska but ultimately settling in the Mexican state of Morelia, was prolific during his long career and is considered one of the greats of 20th-century Mexican design. Despite his high-ranking status in Mexico’s modernism scene, his works have mostly been celebrated and exhibited in private collections. MDW will also host a series of panel discussions and film screenings to support its cultural programming. The Design House installation will showcase the work of various designers and architects who have been invited to transform various spaces throughout an existing home with their works. The Creativity & Change forum will bring together experts in the areas of creativity, design, education, and sustainability to share ideas. And the Angela Peralta Theatre, designed by Mexican architect Enrique Aragón Echegaray and modeled after the designs for the Delacorte Theatre in New York and the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, will screen a series of design-oriented documentaries. Following Brazil in 2013, the United Kingdom in 2014, and Italy in 2015, DWM will host Germany as its 2016 “Guest Country,” filling many of the festival’s design panels with German designers and artists. The fair also selected the Mexican state of Jalisco as this year’s “Guest State” and will exhibit traditional crafts and contemporary design from the state’s tapatia creative community. This year’s festivities coincide with Mexico City’s selection as the 2018 World Design Capital (WDC) by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (ICSID). The designation, announced at the ICSID’s 29th General Assembly in Gwangju, South Korea last year, represents the first for a city in the Americas and the sixth such designation, overall. Taipei, Taiwan is the 2016 World Design Capital. The price is awarded every two years to cities the ICSID believes display “a commitment to use design as an effective tool for social, cultural, economic and environmental development.” Cultural programming for DWM will run in tandem with preparations for the WDC celebrations, including the special participation of a delegation from Taipei’s design scene in MDW’s 2016 festivities. For more on DWM, see their website here.
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This three-sided concrete skyscraper can withstand earthquakes and stand for 2,500 years

In 1985 Mexico City suffered a devastating earthquake. Occurring in the early morning on September 19, the quake took the lives of more than 5,000 people. The earthquake's vibrations of the lakebed sediments beneath the city also destabilized its skyscrapers. Such was the devastation that one nine-story tower collapsed, its piles ripped from the ground. New building codes were implemented after the disaster and now Mexican architecture practice L. Benjamin Romano Arquitectos (LBRA), working alongside working alongside engineering firm Arup’s New York office, has produced an earthquake-resistant skyscraper designed to last 2,500 years.

Rising to 57-stories, Arup conceived pre-tensioned double-V hangers to brace the facade. According to a press release, in practice the skyscraper—named Torre Reforma (Tower Reform)—has an "inherent tendency to twist when subjected to lateral loads and wind" and "earthquake forces." While creating a signature aesthetic for the building, the hangers also provide visual reassurance of the its structural qualities.

Materiality was a key component of the design process for the tower. Arup said that the finish of the concrete was "critical"; the firm evaluated numerous design mixes. Their final choice resulted in a smooth surface, free from honeycombing or other flaws. Poured in increments of 27 inches, the finish highlights the color variations that are commonplace in similar types of pours.

In addition to its tectonics, the building's circulatory aspects were another area of focus. With a triangular floor-plan, LBRA strayed away from using the central core that's norm in skyscrapers. At Torre Reforma, the elevators and egress stairways are contained in the apex of the triangle. Long-span pyramidal floor trusses facilitate concealing the building's services. These trusses also enable dramatic column-free interiors and sweeping views of the city and the nearby Chapultepec Park.

Additionally, Torre Reforma is a pre-certified as a LEED Platinum Core and Shell project, as it makes use of various water conservation systems and a combination of automated and passive ventilation systems to moderate temperature.

"Arup has been indispensable in helping to transform my architectural vision into an efficient and buildable structure," said Benjamin Romano, Principal of LBRA, in a press release. "They have provided innovative solutions to the complex seismic issues in Mexico City and have been instrumental in helping the bidding contractors understand that Torre Reforma is not more complex than standard vertical construction; it just applies traditional construction methods, that contractors are already familiar with, in a new and different way."

Tabitha Tavolaro, Associate Principal at Arup and project manager for Torre Reforma, added, “Building tall structures in Mexico City often means working in constrained conditions. Challenges can include small or irregular sites, coordinating diverse teams, and, of course, seismic hazards. In this project, we partnered with LBRA to create robust solutions that bring value to the client as well as the community.”

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Facades pro Hagy Belzberg to architects: bring engineers on board sooner

Architects have long relied on engineers to help execute formally or functionally complex concepts. But, as Belzberg Architects founder Hagy Belzberg points out, "architects usually work out a schematic design" in response to a client's needs, "only later to invite the engineer to help substantiate their idea." Belzberg's own experience collaborating with facade engineers at Arup suggests a different approach—one in which the designers and consultants trade ideas and expertise from the very beginning. With Arup's Matt Williams, Belzberg will outline some of the benefits of a close association among AEC industry professionals through two cutting-edge case studies at next week's Facades+ LA conference. Belzberg and Williams' dialog workshop, "Process Shaping Design: Design, Digital Fabrication, and Delivery" is organized around two projects with distinct origins. The first is the Gores Group Headquarters (9800 Wilshire Boulevard) in Los Angeles. "The building will be a case study in how adaptive facades can help us reappropriate existing buildings so we don't have to knock them down," said Belzberg. Digital fabrication technology, he explained, allowed Belzberg Architects to craft a new envelope that is "highly sculptural and unique, but still performative." The second case study examines a series of commercial buildings in Mexico City. "It's the same digital fabrication on a new building," said Belzberg. In contrast to the more typical approach, Belzberg Architects brought Arup on board before touching pencil to paper (or hand to computer mouse). "What we're trying to promote is a case study in which we brought in the engineers on day one, so it becomes more performative, more efficient, and even more cost-effective," said Belzberg. Besides sharing some of their own work, Belzberg and Williams hope to use the workshop to dig into other examples—cases contributed by the participants themselves. "No one's going to have to do any homework, or any sketches," said Belzberg. "But we want people to come in with case studies of their own that we can work on: Not just questions and answers, but we're hoping that other architects will bring real-life scenarios so that we can brainstorm opportunities. It's not just about our work, but an opportunity to discuss audience case studies." To sign up for "Process Shaping Design" or another lab or dialog workshop, register today for Facades+ LA. Learn more and review the symposium agenda on the conference website.
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Enrique Norten opens a campus of intersecting volumes for Mexico City's CENTRO University

On September 29, CENTRO, a Mexico City university that specializes in creative studies, inaugurated a new campus designed by Enrique Norten of TEN Arquitectos. Located on Avenida Constituyentes, not far from Chapultepec Park, Norten's new campus packs an interdisciplinary mix of interior architecture, film, industrial design, and digital media programs into 78,700 square feet. Landscape architecture firm A Pleno Sol worked with TEN Arquitectos to add some 27,000 square feet of landscape and planted roofs. The 2,500-student CENTRO was founded in 2004 by Gina Diez Barroso and Abraham Franklin and focuses on the intersection of the creative, business, technology, and science fields. The opportunity to design a complete new campus is rare enough, and Norten, who has designed other university buildings for Rutgers University, the Universidad Panamerica, and CIEAX, was honored to receive the Centro commission. “It is an amazing location, across from the park, right in the center of the city and our new big train station is coming in very close by, so it will be one of the best connected universities,” said Norten. While the campus has expansion plans to accommodate up to 6,000 students, it is, according to the architects, also one of the first campuses built to LEED Platinum standards. Norten’s design embraces a Bauhaus-like program, where four building volumes intersect and connect to bring together all departments and programs. The heart of the campus is an exterior 10,000 square-foot monumental stair designed in collaboration with Mexican artist Jan Hendrix. Stairs are a dominant feature of the campus, according to Kerstin Scheuch, general director of CENTRO. “The different ways to go up and down and around it does something in your mind that there is not just one way,” she explained. “There are so many ways to circulate in this building and I think that is hugely important about how we feel about the program and opens up the communication among people.” Other amenities include a 400-seat, state-of-the-art auditorium and a 7,000-square-foot interior courtyard that links classroom and office buildings. An intentionally minimal palette allows students to “make the building their own,” according to Scheuch. Students from all disciplines are invited to participate in the evolution of the campus. For now it is most evident in the signage and graphics on the building and benches that line the main courtyard. Founder Gina Diez Barroso believes that the design of the new campus contributes to Centro’s pedagogy. “Everything connects because the curriculum is interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary,” she noted. “I think the more they live in it the more they will want to interact.” Scheuch agreed, “All things creative can happen here.” For Barroso, the creative spark happened eighteen years ago when she first met the architect. Norten was part of the conversation about the school from the beginning vision. “I think this project was much more than an architectural project for Enrique, it was like his baby,” she explained. “He is actually a shareholder in CENTRO; he is my partner and my friend and he believes in everything we are going to do.” Norten is the also the recipient of the 2015 Neutra Award Medal, which will be presented by Cal Poly Pomona on October 26.
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Fernando Romero has a plan to green Mexico City with the Cultural Corridor Chapultepec, a park-like linear thoroughfare

Avenida Chapultepec in Mexico City began as a road for Aztec emperors. Over the years the broad boulevard, which leads from the old Colonia Centro to Chapultepec Park, hosted an aqueduct and the city’s first electric tram. But the 20th century wasn’t particularly kind to the thoroughfare. Pounded with traffic and gray with diesel soot, it no longer represents the aspirations of a contemporary Mexico City. But that might change. FR-EE, the Mexico City–based architecture practice headed by Fernando Romero, recently proposed a multimodal greenway to replace a section of Avenida Chapultepec. FR-EE’s proposal, the Cultural Corridor Chapultepec (CCC), remakes a 0.8-mile stretch from Chapultepec Park down to the free-for-all circular junction at Glorieta de los Insurgentes. According to the office, the two-level boulevard will have lanes specifically dedicated to bikes, skaters, wheelchairs, strollers, cars, and buses, with a central promenade for pedestrians. "This project will organize the surroundings, will double the green areas, will enhance connectivity and will celebrate the cultural diversity of the city," Romero explained in a press release. Renderings show a lush upper level promenade planted with shade trees and High Line–like foliage. Cafes and other retail spaces dot the new landscape. The proposal leans toward climate-sensitive features. The hope is that plantings will mitigate the intense “heat island” effect of a long, open surface in the middle of the city. Rainwater will be collected and recycled for irrigation and there are plans to provide solar cells for electricity. A proposal at this scale is somewhat of a departure for Romero, who works with expressive architectural form more than urban fabric. The architect, best known for his sleek and gestural Museo Soumaya, is currently working with Foster + Partners on the Mexico City International Airport. However, the design reflects the global influence of placemaking combined with infrastructural urbanism—a sustainable tonic that could benefit a super dense metropolis like Mexico City.
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Enrique Norten unveils expansion plans for Mexico City's design & film school, Centro

Centro, a Mexico City–based design and film school, has just announced that Enrique Norten of TEN Arquitectos has been chosen to design a new expansion to its existing campus. Norten claims his design encompasses “Centro’s dynamic and inclusive atmosphere, with sustainable LEED structures, maximum accessibility between all facilities, optimal access to public transportation services and a central public park in a key urban development zone.” In addition, his plan will combine “interior studios and outdoor work areas” that will offer a variety of learning environments, allowing for fluid teaching methods and cross pollination between disciplines.” Built on Mexico City’s Avenida Constituyentes, the campus will feature a multifunctional auditorium and dramatic exterior staircase built by Dutch-born, Mexican-based artist Jan Hendrix, a four-story media library, a state-of the-art film studio and a series of workshop studios.
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Facades pro Michel Rojkind on value-added building envelopes

Known for their playful, cutting-edge facades, Rojkind Arquitectos are adept at transforming obstacles into opportunity. Founded in 2002, the Mexico City–based practice is regularly challenged with delivering a sense of cohesion to unplanned urban chaos. As the literal and metaphorical mediator between a building's interior and its context, the envelope is a crucial starting point for any such endeavor. "Our first approach is through digital design and local fabrication, depending on the geography of the project, time, budget, etc.," explained founding partner Michel Rojkind, fresh from the July 7 groundbreaking of the firm's Foro Boca concert hall in Veracruz, Mexico. "We research local craftsmanship to enhance the final results." Besides considering the more pragmatic elements of design and execution, said Rojkind, "We also try to question what a facade is, in terms of performance or how it can produce other areas that blur the line between building and [exterior]." For him, the most intriguing question facing contemporary designers and fabricators is: "How can facades bring added value to the project—not only in economic terms, but also as social innovation?" Rojkind will deliver the opening keynote September 10 at Facades+ Miami, the South Florida debut of the popular conference series on high performance building enclosures. Speaking of architectural conditions in the conference's host city, Rojkind—himself an old hand at designing for a hot, sunny climate—said, "I think there are great opportunities to really push for interior/exterior living connections and blur those boundaries. [We can] learn from the past while embracing future social interactions as a design [guide]." Hear more from Rojkind and other movers and shakers in the AEC industry, and participate in exclusive local field trips, at Facades+ Miami this fall. For more information or to register, visit the conference website.
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On View> Mexico City installation puts architecture on the sidewalk

Leave it to a pair of Brazilian architects to use reinforced concrete to reinvent small-scale urbanism. While North American designers turn to plywood and recycled palettes to create curbside seating, architects Fernando Falcón and Rodrigo Cerviño of the São Paulo–based practice TACOA Arquitetos shopped for rebar. Entitled Jardineira, Falcón and Cerviño’s installation is a cantilevered concrete planter and bench located on the busy Insurgentes Avenue in Mexico City. The work sits outside the architecture gallery LIGA, Space for Architecture on one of the city’s major thoroughfares. Founded in 2011, the gallery focuses on primarily on Latin American practices and Jardineira is the first time that an exhibition has left the 172-square-foot venue and directly addressed the street condition. The concrete installation mimics the existing street furniture, but with one exception: it tilts, seemingly dislodging itself from the sidewalk. “I knew it would be good when they wanted to bring in a structural engineer,” said architect Wonne Ickx, co-founder of LIGA and the architecture firm Productora. An emerging firm, TACOA believes that any work of architecture should serve as a pretext for interacting directly with the city. As their installation illustrates, they do this without abandoning disciplinary rigor or a formal language. The pair ground their work in the teachings of the Paulista School, the mid-century group of Brazilian architects that included Pritzker Prize–winner Paulo Mendes da Rocha and João Batista Vilanova Artigas. Designs from both architects are included in the current MoMA exhibition Latin America in Construction: Architecture 1955–1980While most would associate Brazilian architecture with the swoops of Oscar Niemeyer, the Paulista School embraced the grittier side of architecture with chunky, exposed concrete buildings. Similarly, Falcón and Cerviño find inspiration in the frictions and imperfections of urban life. Jardineira is on view at LIGA through August.