All the chatter may be around Frank Gehry and the Los Angeles River, but that waterway is not the only channelized river on the West Coast. More than 40 years ago a 10.5-mile long stretch of the Tijuana River was concretized as a flood control channel to make more development possible. If Gehry’s scheme is all about hydrology, a new proposal for the Tijuana River is about electricity. René Peralta and Jim Bliesner’s scheme for an energy farm combines large arrays of solar panels with an algae system to remediate the water headed for the Tijuana River Estuary and the Pacific Ocean. According to Peralta, the system would produce enough megawatts to power 30,000 homes or a 112-acre industrial park. The plan came out of a class developed as part of UC San Diego Urban Studies and Planning Program, where both men teach. Additionally Peralta directs Woodbury University’s Landscape + Urbanism Master of Science program and Bliesner leads the nonprofit Center for Urban Economics and Design. While generating power is important, the pair see overall regional sustainability as critical goals. According to a story in the San Diego Union-Tribune, they’ve presented their work at the environmental conference Green Tijuana-San Diego Verde and have spoken to North American Development Bank. Their preliminary analysis suggests that the solar panels could help decrease the current heat island effect impacting Tijuana’s dense urban neighborhoods by lessening solar radiation in the summer. They also proposed a partially roofed section of the river to create shade over the brutal concrete channel. Other potential infrastructural upgrades would include tree grids on top of the canal and floating algae pools that would sequester CO2 levels generated by vehicle emissions (the canal is flanked by roadways). Although the project is in preliminary stages and still needs governmental support, it offers a much needed “hack” in the face of ecological and social costs in Mexico. Or as Peralta told Sandra Dibble of the Union-Tribune, “[Tijuana] does not have the luxury of reinventing the river to what it once was.” He noted that the solution comes from “hybridizing its old infrastructure with new technologies.” It’s about teaching an old channel some new tricks.
Posts tagged with "Mexico":
Rojkind Arquitectos designs jagged waterfront concert hall to boost Mexico’s reputation as a music and cultural hub
Capitalizing on the recent rise of Boca del Rio's cultural profile, construction has begun on a new waterfront concert hall in Veracruz, Mexico. The Foro Boca will house the Boca del Rio Philharmonic Orchestra, formed last year to incite interest in the region as a cultural and musical center, and kickstart a masterplan to regenerate the local architecture. Positioned as an antidote to the area’s rising crime and pollution levels of the last 20 years, the concert hall by Mexico City–based Rojkind Arquitectos includes an 850-seat concert hall, rehearsal space, music library, and offices. The striking concrete edifice of jagged volumes fronts the breakwater between the mouth of the Jamapa river and the Gulf of Mexico, its geometry referencing the adjacent jetty. The tallest of these volumes houses the concert hall. Visitors enter the building through a triple-height lobby, which leads to the music halls and the library. The 50,000 square foot building will also have a 150-seat chamber music room to host monthly chamber music concerts, while an after-school choral and musical program for low-income children will also be held. On the third floor is a terrace with sweeping views of the ocean and river. Foro Boca’s location converges with Avenue Zamora, which is lined with local restaurants, and is being eyed as a potential catalyst for local gentrification. “The building appropriates the timeless expression of the concrete cubes formed by ripraps in the breakwater, assimilating them as its origin and reinterpreting them in a building made of apparent concrete, forming various areas of volume that contain the concert hall,” said Rojkind Arquitectos founding partner, Michel Rojkind.
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."
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.