We are currently in Beta version and updating this search on a regular basis. We’d love to hear your feedback here.

30 Technology-Driven Projects Point to Our Future: In Conversation with Francisco Gonzalez-Pulido

30 Technology-Driven Projects Point to Our Future: In Conversation with Francisco Gonzalez-Pulido

Vladimir Belogolovsky talks with Mexican-American architect Francisco Gonzalez-Pulido on his exhibition 30 Projects/30 Years/30 Stories now on view at the Museo Metropolitano in Monterrey, Mexico.30 Projects/30 Years/30 Stories, a large retrospective on the work of Mexican-American architect Francisco Gonzalez Pulido, was opened on June 18 at the Museo Metropolitano in Monterrey, Mexico. The exhibition will remain on view until September 21.

30 Technology-Driven Projects Point to Our Future: In Conversation with Francisco Gonzalez-Pulido  - Image 2 of 2230 Technology-Driven Projects Point to Our Future: In Conversation with Francisco Gonzalez-Pulido  - Image 3 of 2230 Technology-Driven Projects Point to Our Future: In Conversation with Francisco Gonzalez-Pulido  - Image 4 of 2230 Technology-Driven Projects Point to Our Future: In Conversation with Francisco Gonzalez-Pulido  - Image 5 of 22+ 22

Gonzalez-Pulido graduated from Tecnológico de Monterrey, one of the most prestigious universities in Latin America, in 1991, which explains the exhibition’s title. His 30-year post-graduation career includes running his own firm for six years in Mexico, immediately after Monterrey Tec; pursuing his master’s degree at MIT in Cambridge; working for 18 years with Helmut Jahn, where he was a Partner and the company’s President for 10 years before establishing his own practice, FGP Atelier in 2017 in Chicago. The projects in the show range from a single-family house, university buildings, sports stadiums, mosques, science and cultural buildings, skyscrapers, and airports in North and South America, Asia, Africa, Middle East, and in Gonzalez-Pulido’s native Mexico.

30 Technology-Driven Projects Point to Our Future: In Conversation with Francisco Gonzalez-Pulido  - Image 22 of 22
Courtesy of FGP Atelier

Retrospective is perhaps not the right term to describe this ambitious show, as it is focused more on the future rather than the past and on posing questions instead of providing answers. The exhibit is the first architectural show in the history of the museum, which is housed in a two-story late-17th century colonial building that originally served as the Municipal Palace. The museum is devoted to hosting well-attended temporary art exhibitions and special events. The Gonzalez-Pulido show takes over the museum’s entire second-floor galleries. It is divided into two zones – eight built projects are displayed at an L-shaped white-box type windowless gallery and 22 projects, only two of which are now under construction, are presented along a semi-enclosed perimeter arched gallery overlooking the museum’s central square patio, a natural place for popular concerts and lectures, and where the opening ceremony with speeches by prominent local politicians and architects took place in the presence of no less than two hundred visitors, some of whom came from all over Mexico and the U.S.


Related Article

“Architecture Stands Out Because It Has Something to Say to its Context”: In conversation with Mario Botta

Every project is accompanied by an elaborate model, photos, drawings, diagrams, and detailed texts, along with additional films, slide shows, and video interviews with Gonzalez-Pulido. There is enough material to easily spend well over one hour here, while the museum’s free of charge entrance and central location at this second-most populous and dynamically growing city in Mexico, will assure a strong interest during the show’s three-month run. Attending the pre-opening tour by the architect I had a chance to talk to Francisco Gonzalez Pulido directly. We spoke right next to Autarquía, a model of Autarky, a system of economic self-sufficiency, an imaginary utopian city that opens the show by gathering all featured projects, conveniently depicted at the same scale. Autarquía is a contemplative proposal for how to build a place that uses the least amount of resources. The idea of using less is one overarching theme that connects all works by Gonzalez-Pulido. The following interview was conducted exclusively for ArchDaily.

30 Technology-Driven Projects Point to Our Future: In Conversation with Francisco Gonzalez-Pulido  - Image 20 of 22
Courtesy of FGP Atelier

Vladimir Belogolovsky: It is unusual to see an architectural exhibition at such mainstream public places as the Metropolitan Museum here in the very heart of Monterrey. Could you touch on how this show was initiated?  

Francisco Gonzalez Pulido: It all happened quite spontaneously. A couple of years ago I gave a lecture at the Monterrey Tec, my alma mater, which attracted attention, and soon I received an invitation from the museum to host my show. It was the right timing because this year happens to be the 30th anniversary since my graduation. That’s what sparked the show’s initial concept – 30 years-30 projects, each telling its own story. The selected projects are not presented chronologically or geographically. And they are not grouped into any building types or scales. They are simply divided into eight realizations and 22 unbuilt projects, two of which are under construction. Among projects on display here are competition entries, research studies, visionary speculations, and overall ideas for how our future may be shaped. Each project is a provocation. In other words, look at the possibilities of what can be done!

30 Technology-Driven Projects Point to Our Future: In Conversation with Francisco Gonzalez-Pulido  - Image 7 of 22
Courtesy of FGP Atelier

VB: Each project has its own story. There are 30 projects, 30 possibilities. Yet, there is probably a unifying concept behind these projects. What is it?

FGP: You are right, we didn’t want simply to put on display our works. That would not be critical. I would identify one unifying theme here as using less. That’s my dominant focus. I always strive for lightness. One project that does not fit this aspiration is the 1000K Tower, a one-kilometer tall mixed-use building that we prepared especially for the show to pose a very critical question – how high can we build now? Is it even a relevant question any longer? All other projects are about pushing the limits of the minimal. In fact, most of these projects are not built because their idealized intentions could not be achieved. Yet, we wanted to demonstrate not only the projects themselves but our scientific methodologies behind their designs. I also wanted to show a wide range of scales and functions to present them in an urban form that would connect them into a single entity, a kind of idealized self-contained city well-connected by transportation. It is also a study of how big a city needs to be. What infrastructure is necessary to keep it alive? What should be the ideal distance from its center to the periphery? What functions should be represented? How they should be integrated?

30 Technology-Driven Projects Point to Our Future: In Conversation with Francisco Gonzalez-Pulido  - Image 8 of 22
Courtesy of FGP Atelier

VB: Now I understand why all 30 projects are plugged into a single model and why you needed a symbolic one-kilometer tower in its core.

FGP: I think it helps to visualize a possibility for these projects to be connected, not to see them as merely isolated objects. There are many questions that I try to raise here. What is our city of the future going to be like? Should we rethink our current city? Should we rebuild and repurpose it? Is there a reason for a supertall building in the city? Do we have the technology to go much beyond the current record heights? Does it even make sense? For sure there are more questions than answers.

30 Technology-Driven Projects Point to Our Future: In Conversation with Francisco Gonzalez-Pulido  - Image 10 of 22
Courtesy of FGP Atelier

VB: Other than the fact that such ambitious towers may be unnecessary, what specific lessons have you learned from this exercise?

FGP: Interestingly, this project is not an academic exercise for me, as in my days with Jahn we designed massive towers, many were never built, such as the 560-meter tower in Doha, which originally was designed as part of our convention center there. But working on the one-kilometer tower I realized that at least for now such projects are entirely unnecessary, which is an important lesson. In fact, anything above 200 meters is economically unsustainable. Anything that’s taller is mainly about making a statement and they are like Formula One-level machines. Of course, there are cities around the world where there are reasons for being tall. But I am more interested in how buildings feed into their cities and how they can connect and develop together. We looked at many aspects – elevator technology, the necessary footprint to support such extreme height, use of fabrics for curtain wall instead of very heavy and expensive glass, how to improve the way buildings are illuminated, and a possibility for creating a double skin with improved indoor air quality. So, the main idea was to create a microclimate and livable environment, not an object. And I am very positive about new composite materials such as resins, fiberglass, and lightweight concrete that will make structures lighter, thinner, more fire-resistant, better insulated, better perform acoustically, and so on. We need to bring the digital revolution into the building industry, which compares to other industries is way behind. We need to be more efficient and have materials where we need them since many conventional structures use 30-40 percent more materials than necessary. New technologies will cut waste and pollution. But the main lesson here is that it is absolutely crucial to ask questions and to experiment. I am more interested in the skyscraper as a system than a sculpture.

30 Technology-Driven Projects Point to Our Future: In Conversation with Francisco Gonzalez-Pulido  - Image 15 of 22
Courtesy of FGP Atelier

VB: I noticed there are some projects here from your time with Helmut Jahn. Could you touch on your role in them?

FGP: I am glad you asked about this because some people may question why these projects are here at all. My time with Jahn can be divided into three periods – six years each – the first six years he was my mentor, the second six years we were design partners when Helmut was leading the design and I was the technologist for many of the buildings. I would go to China, Middle East, and other places to lead these projects. Because of my background, I was behind the detailing of many projects. And last six years I was the company’s president, being very independent and some of the buildings were designed entirely as my collaboration with the office, independently from Helmut. That’s why some of my Jahn-period projects are here. In the last six years, we shared the ownership of what was designed in the office. One very special such project in the show is VEER Towers in Las Vegas [2010].

30 Technology-Driven Projects Point to Our Future: In Conversation with Francisco Gonzalez-Pulido  - Image 17 of 22
Courtesy of FGP Atelier

VB: What stands out quite clearly here is your fascination with technology. Where does it come from in you?

FGP: Even at the time of my first practice in Mexico I was already working on industrial projects – telecommunication antennas, warehouses, and so on. It came from the way I grew up. My father was an engineer, and he would always build something on his ranch. I loved to be a part of those projects – from rebuilding a transmission for a truck to constructing a tractor shed. He was interested in how things are manufactured and how they are connected. That interest transferred to me. I call many of my projects “technical contextualism.” Wherever I go I try to use what’s there. For example, everyone was nervous about our Educational Pavilion in Oaxaca [2017], one of the tiniest projects in the show. Because of its, all glass and steel skin people were afraid it would look like a spaceship amidst historical buildings. But once I explained that we were not going to bring outside labor the project was embraced. It was the same local ironworkers who restored the 17th-century monastery nearby who did all the steel and compression clips that support the glass. I was working with local artists and artisans who rarely get a chance to apply their skills in the building industry. So, the building we built was quite striking and nothing they have ever seen before, but it became contextual because it was built locally, using passive systems that did not rely on special technology.

30 Technology-Driven Projects Point to Our Future: In Conversation with Francisco Gonzalez-Pulido  - Image 21 of 22
Courtesy of FGP Atelier

VB: What one building here that you are particularly proud of?

FGP: That would have to be the Diablos Baseball Stadium in Mexico City [2019] in collaboration with my dear friend, architect Alonso de Garay. That is because it was so challenging to build it. As architects, we can design anything. But the point is - how do you design your project to perform well? Our client was very tough, in the good sense of the word. We went overvalue engineering so many times. We had to rethink and refine our ideas constantly to achieve efficiency and economy. We had to bring the biggest crane in the world to assemble the roof. Such a project has never been done in Mexico before. It shows that the most complex technological feats can be done here.

Or look at Santa Lucia, the new airport in Mexico City, now under construction. We were working with many constraints there. The biggest challenge was how to build it on time – in unprecedented two years – and on budget. We thought about the airport as a perfect machine and not as a monument. When completed, the third phase will have a capacity of 84 million passengers per year. Finally, I would name the Guangzhou International Cultural Center, GICC [2021], which was a competition project we won almost immediately following the founding of FGP Atelier. We were invited by a developer who I worked with while still being at Jahn to compete against such architects as Steven Holl and SOM, and we won.

30 Technology-Driven Projects Point to Our Future: In Conversation with Francisco Gonzalez-Pulido  - Image 9 of 22
Courtesy of FGP Atelier

VB: As people encounter your projects here, what some of the questions that you hope they would be raising?

FGP: First, I see Monterrey as a special place. In the last ten years, there is a significant change in how architecture is being built here. It is about bringing more advanced systems and technologies. It is fascinating how modern technology is integrated into the latest buildings. I want people to think of the role of technology in our society, as our environment is becoming more seamlessly integrated with it on all levels. My work is not about form. In a way, these buildings are formless. They are intuitive, using less, and are functionally driven. I want people to question how structures, materials, and lighting could be used more economically and more imaginatively. I also want people to stop thinking of buildings as permanent things. We should think of how we recycle structures and their components, and their potential uses. My greenhouse in Oaxaca is a kit of parts that can be taken apart and moved elsewhere.

Image gallery

See allShow less
About this author
Cite: Vladimir Belogolovsky. "30 Technology-Driven Projects Point to Our Future: In Conversation with Francisco Gonzalez-Pulido " 13 Jul 2021. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/964666/30-technology-driven-projects-point-to-our-future-in-conversation-with-francisco-gonzalez-pulido> ISSN 0719-8884

More interviews from ourYouTube Channel

Courtesy of FGP Atelier

30个技术驱动的项目指向的未来:对话 Francisco Gonzalez-Pulido

You've started following your first account!

Did you know?

You'll now receive updates based on what you follow! Personalize your stream and start following your favorite authors, offices and users.