Held annually, the CEMEX Building Award honors the best architecture and construction both in Mexico and abroad. Yesterday the cement company announced the finalist projects located in Mexico, and in categories ranging from social housing to infrastructure. Each project will be evaluated by a jury convened by CEMEX; the qualities to be evaluated include integrated sustainability, architectural design, structure and innovation in the construction process.
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Last month I went on an enlightening trip to Mexico City, during which I had a chance to meet with half a dozen leading Mexican architects and critics. Those meetings included insightful conversations with Miquel Adrià, Tatiana Bilbao, Victor Legorreta, Mauricio Rocha, and Michel Rojkind among others (many of which will also feature in future installments of City of Ideas). I asked them many different questions, but two were consistent: “who would you name as Mexico’s best architect at this moment?” and “what one building built in the capital over the last decade is your favorite?” All of my interviewees pointed to Alberto Kalach (born 1960) and his Vasconcelos Library (2007). My Conversation with Kalach took place the next day after visiting the library on the rooftop of another one of his iconic buildings, Tower 41 overlooking Bosque de Chapultepec, Mexico City’s Central Park. We spoke about books, libraries, and his idea of buildings as inventions.
What becomes of public space once violence is normalized in a city? Though it is naive to believe that architecture by itself can present absolute solutions to complex social and political issues, it is also important to explore and understand its possibilities as an agent of social change, however small.
Given a chance to realize the architect’s dream of creating his own utopian city from a blank slate, French architect Jean Balladur was inspired by lost civilizations of the past. His designs recall the architecture of grand Mayan ruins with some added flair from the 1960s, all in the form of a seaside resort village in southern France, La Grande Motte. Balladur devoted nearly 30 years to his life’s work, which today welcomes over 2 million tourists annually.
The Museo Soumaya, which opened to the public in 2011, is one of the more striking cultural landmarks on the skyline of Mexico City. Designed by FR-EE / Fernando Romero Enterprise, the space accommodates and displays a private art collection of nearly 70,000 works spanning the 15th to the mid-20th Centuries, including the world’s largest private collection of Auguste Rodin sculptures. In this photo-essay, photographer Laurian Ghinitoiu has turned his lens to this – a rotated rhomboid clad in a skin of 16,000 hexagonal mirrored-steel panels.
WOHA's first exhibition in Latin America, Garden City Mega City: WOHA's Urban Ecosystems presents over two decades of WOHA's international designs. With its inauguration at the Museum of the City of Mexico during the MEXTRÓPOLI International Festival of Architecture and City, the exhibition proposes the introduction of biodiversity and lively public spaces into vertical, climate-sensitive highrises within megalopolises.
One of Mexico's greatest architects, Luis Ramiro Barragán Morfín (March 9, 1902 – November 22, 1988) revolutionized modern architecture in the country with his use of bright colors reminiscent of the traditional architecture of Mexico, and with works such as his Casa Barragán, the Chapel of the Capuchinas, the Torres de Satélite, "Los Clubes" (Cuadra San Cristobal and Fuente de los Amantes), and the Casa Gilardi, among many others.
The "architectural pilgrimage" is much more than just everyday tourism. Studying and admiring a building through text and images often creates a hunger in architects, thanks to the space between the limitations of 2D representation and the true experience of the building. Seeing a building in person that one has long loved from a distance can become something of a spiritual experience, and architects often plan vacations around favorite or important spaces. But too often, architects become transfixed by a need to visit the same dozen European cities that have come to make up the traveling architect's bucket list.
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