Perforated steel and translucent glass balance privacy and pop.For their Center for Manufacturing Innovation (CMI) in Monterrey, Mexico, Metalsa, a global manufacturing firm that specializes in automobile and truck chassis, did not want just another factory. Rather, the laboratory and testing facility, located in a state-sponsored research park adjacent to the Monterrey airport, was to be a "showpiece," explained Brooks + Scarpa Architects principal Lawrence Scarpa, "not just for their clients but from a work environment point of view, and a sustainability point of view." Despite the many challenges inherent to building across the United States-Mexico border, the Los Angeles architects succeeded in delivering a LEED Platinum design wrapped in a striking double skin of translucent glass and perforated steel panels. The facility's uneven sawtooth profile is the product of both historical and contextual references. "They are an industrial company, and I always loved the old warehouses with the north-facing clerestories, designed back when there was no electric lighting," recalled Scarpa. "That was what I was thinking about before I even went to the site." His first visit to Monterrey confirmed his instinct. "The mountains there are really sharp and jagged like that—it was an immediate concept for the building," said Scarpa. Like their 19th-century antecedents, moreover, the clerestories provide daylight and allow hot air to accumulate high above the inhabited spaces, thus reducing reliance on artificial lighting and cooling. The resulting form had one major drawback, however. "The issue we were faced with was that the primary way you enter the building is from the west, so we would have a broad face in the worst possible thermal position," said Scarpa. To solve the problem of solar gain without sacrificing the sawtooth roofline, Brooks + Scarpa implemented a double skin with an outer layer composed of perforated steel panels. With a wraparound sunscreen in place, explained Scarpa, "we could have a translucent skin behind it, but could modulate light and heat gain." Several factors influenced the perforation pattern on the outer skin. It began as an abstraction of Metalsa's corporate identity, said Scarpa, but evolved to respond to programmatic requirements. Perforations of different sizes and densities reflect the need for more or less privacy. Areas related to proprietary research and development are more opaque, while the office spaces cantilevered over the transparent northwest entrance benefit from the additional daylighting allowed by broader perforations. CMI's translucent inner skin of fluted glass refracts light, preventing glare from interfering with computer-based work. To prevent the occupants from feeling trapped in a windowless box, the architects carefully modulated the distance between the envelope's two layers. "When you're on the interior, it doesn't just look like a blank wall," said Scarpa. "When you're on the inside, you can't see through it, but you can see shadows move on the translucent surface." Designing for an out-of-country client is bound to produce hiccups, and the Metalsa project was no exception. For instance, Brooks + Scarpa had initially imagined that the auto giants would fabricate the perforated metal skin in-house, but turned to another supplier when disrupting the company's manufacturing flow proved cost-prohibitive. The architects nevertheless made the best of the situation, streamlining their vision to fit the situation at hand. "The technology that was available to us in Mexico is not overly sophisticated, so from the get-go we decided to take a more simplistic approach, utilizing a multi-layered skin," said Scarpa. "It was easy to construct, and it's not difficult to understand."
Posts tagged with "Mexico":
Painting Palmitas: Artists in Mexico cover an entire hillside village in one enormous psychedelic mural
Pachuca, Mexico is hoping a psychedelic mural can cement the transformation of a once crime-stricken neighborhood to a safer, more unified community. The government-sponsored urban renewal project, called El Macro Mural Barrio de Palmitas, coated over 200 hillside dwellings in a vibrant layer of paint with striking results. The government teamed up with a local graffiti collective, Germen Crew, to create the hillside mural, bringing in local residents to help with the project. The project encompassed an estimated 65,000 square feet of facade in all, transforming the once unembellished exteriors with multicolored swirls in rainbow hues. Up close, the village streets appear coated in large blocks of color, but from a distance, the mural takes its unified form, cascading from roof to roof to create a striking image. “We are trying to create a movement,” said Germen Crew in a recent interview, “We are taking into account the history of the colony but also its present, its people. And when you come to the streets, you'll find the identity of the place, but the idea is also to create an iconic place for everything Pachuca.” Germen Crew's paintings intend to preserve the community’s culture and are created in a way that provokes a more positive outlook. “We are making the world we want to live in, a world where you work and offer talents for the benefit of the common good,” stated Mybe, co-founder of Germen Crew.
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.
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.
In mid-May, AN wrote about Zaha Hadid's first project in Mexico—a sprawling, 981-unit housing complex in Monterrey. The Esfera City Center development appears as a series of interconnected, almost pixelated, mid-rise residential buildings that are centered around a communal green space. And now it has a slick video rendering that sheds new light on the project's design. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hxReDJpqMMQ As with pretty much every Zaha Hadid project, the unveiling of Esfera City Center came with plenty of eye candy in the form of glossy renderings. But if those pictures left you wanting more, you're in luck! Hadid's team has also released a fly-through of the project that gives a closer look at the complex's apartments, gym, pool, and open space. Take a look at the video above for an in-depth look at Hadid's latest, inside and out. [h/t Dezeen]
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 1955–1980. While 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.
Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) has unveiled the design for its first building in Mexico, a 981 unit, mid-rise housing project in Monterrey. The original brief called for 12 towers, but ZHA proposed the alternative plan that includes a large open green space surrounded by three buildings in a rectangle. The scheme is one of Hadid’s more nuanced, as individual units are expressed as such in a pixelated, morphing grid. Each unit is styled in the firm’s signature curved massing. Usually, their buildings main function is to look like a late '90s/early 2000s basketball sneaker, namely the Adidas Crazy 97, the Jordan XV, or the Reebok Preachers. However, the so-called Esfera City Center attempts to engage with its urban surroundings, namely the two adjacent neighborhoods that are very different in character. The project is designed with ample open space to create a safe environment where both residents and passers-by feel welcome. The interconnected public zones include a café, gym, reading room, and amphitheater. The project will be built in three phases and the first is scheduled for completion in 2018.
The Architectural League's Emerging Voices lecture series, now in its 30th year, has reliably identified important new talent through a juried selection process. This year's group reflects a number of important currents in contemporary practice in North America. In recent years, a number of young Mexican firms have been showcased, and this year's group includes three practices, Ambrosi Etchegaray, Atelier ARS, and CC Arquitectos, which represent that country's proud tradition of stark and rooted modernism. Boston, long seen as conservative place to work, is represented by two young firms, Merge Architects, and Neri Oxman. A can-do pragmatism and urbanistic grit informs Philadelphia's ISA, and the pioneering digital designers Aranda/Lasch, based in New York and Tucson, are rapidly moving from installations and furniture to significant freestanding buildings. The emergence of landscape architecture and landscape urbanism is reflected in the design and research of Miami's Studio Roberto Rovira. For a full schedule of the Emerging Voices lecture series, visit the League's website. Full profiles of each firm will be available in the March East Coast edition of AN.
When Miguel Arroyo arrived in New York City in 1939 as the assistant of the Venezuelan painter Luis Alfredo López Méndez, he met the architect of the Venezuelan Pavilion at New York's World's Fair: a young Gordon Bunshaft at SOM. The two formed a lifelong friendship. Later when Arroyo became director of the Museo de Bellas Artes, he and his wife, Lourdes Blanco, lived in the Altomar, a beautiful building by W.J. Alcock carefully propped on the hill heading west from the Plaza de Las Mercedes. Arroyo designed furniture all his life and the installation of the Museo del Arzobispo in Coro (Venezuela’s first capital city) was inaugurated in 1984. Design for Living concentrates on his earlier work, notably the interior he designed for Don Alfredo Boulton inside his colonial house in Pampatar, Margarita. The works in Colombia are also unknown for most architects and designers while the Brazilian works have gotten more exposure. I look forward to seeing this extraordinary show, which opens on February 11, 2015. It is on view at Americas Society from February 11 through May 16, 2015.
Mexico has a unique architectural and artistic culture that spans generations and decades. It's is a combination of a powerful indigenous vernacular created when the Spanish met the native peoples, sophisticated European designers immigrating to the country, and a long period when it was cut off from the international flow of capital and ideas. But now a new generation of young architects is redefining this tradition in the most creative and exciting ways. One of those young designers—Frida Escobedo—is in New York and will be presenting her work at the Swiss Institute on Saturday. Escobedo will discuss her recent work and overall practice with Beatrice Galilee, associate curator of architecture and design at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Escobar founded the studio Perro Rojo with Alejandro Alarcón in 2003, and, since 2006, has worked as an independent architect. She has said of her work, "In sum these don't pretend to announce any form of grandeur, but rather expose their minutia. They are nothing more and nothing less than substrates, processed through participation, their means of production never finished, always turning anew, lineworks and lattices buried beneath a deep tissue of milieu and event." It all happen at the Swiss Institute in Soho at 18 Wooster Street on Saturday, November 8 at 4:30p.m.
A new international airport for Mexico City won't just fix the problems of its predecessor—which typically delays planes because the two runways were built too close together—it will be unique in its efficient expansive single enclosure, according to its architects, Foster + Partners and FR-EE. Foster and FR-EE were announced as the winners of a design competition last Tuesday, in which all the finalists had worked with local design talent. Mexico City-based FR-EE's founder Fernando Romero is married to Soumaya Slim, a daughter of Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim. The new airport, which aims to become the busiest in Latin America, has received a $9.17 billion pledge, partly in public land from President Enrique Peña Nieto. The government will finance its early construction, issuing bonds for later stages of development. Officials estimate Mexico will receive $19.6 billion in additional tourism revenue through 2040 as a result of the new airport. It will accommodate more than 100 million annual passengers. At more than 6 million square feet, the new airport will be one of the world's largest. It's also labeling itself the most sustainable. While still a complex committed to promoting air travel, a substantial contributor to global emissions of carbon dioxide, its layout is intended to be entirely walkable and won't need heating or air conditioning for most of the year. Foster + Partner's website said the project will be LEED Platinum:
The entire building is serviced from beneath, freeing the roof of ducts and pipes and revealing the environmental skin. This hardworking structure harnesses the power of the sun, collects rainwater, provides shading, directs daylight and enables views—all while achieving a high performance envelope that meets high thermal and acoustic standards.Organized around a single massive enclosure, the airport weaves cavernous, naturally ventilated spaces around an organic "X" shape that appears in plan like a cross section of DNA. The lightweight, pre-fab structure will open its first three runways by 2020. Another three runways, set to open by 2050, will quadruple the airport's current capacity. Mexico City's current airport, Benito Juárez International, will eventually be closed and rehabbed into a commercial development and public park. The design competition that preceded this week's unveiling drew high-profile names, including Zaha Hadid, Richard Rogers, and Pascall+Watson. Mexican-American architect and partner at JAHN, Francisco Gonzalez-Pulido, also submitted a design to the competition, but was ultimately unsuccessful. He teamed up with local designers Francisco Lopez-Guerra of LOGUER and Alonso de Garay of ADG for the airport, whose form evokes both flight and traditional Mexican art. A pyramidal arrangement of structural white "umbrellas" transmit light while shielding occupants from the hot Mexican sun.
Mexico City's posh Polanco neighborhood is now home to the recently redesigned Living Rooms of the W Mexico City. Part of a larger $100 million campaign to update its hotels across North America, the W asked New York City–based nemaworkshop, a firm that has been known to—quite literally—turn design on its head, to bring a sense of mystery and illusion to the hotel's common spaces. Guests are greeted by a translucent and inverted glass pyramid as soon as they enter the lobby, which holds secret messages that can only be seen at night. Surrounding the pyramid, a ring of seats take the form of eerie masks when seen from the rear. In a VIP lounge nearby, colorful laser-cut screens provide privacy while maintaining a connection with the larger space and surrounding neighborhood through an expansive glass facade. At the central bar, guests can look up to a ceiling of shifting waves generated by the reflective surfaces covering the ceiling, meant to give the illusion that one is in the midst a sea of moving water. Elsewhere, an unexpected tequila bar is set inside a dimly-lit bathroom. Reflective surfaces are paired with natural stones, rippling metals, and sleek geometric walls and carpets to create a series of visual effects throughout the new space. The lobby, which had not been updated since 2001, is now filled with colorful artwork and puzzling arrangements that pay homage to Mexico City’s rich history and create a series of illusions for visitors. Nemaworkshop is also working on updating the hotel's guestrooms, which will be revealed later.