Ciudad de México, Mexico
Hagy Belzberg, Brock Desmit, Cory Taylor
Company: Grupo Anima (People: Alberto Djaddah, Jacobo Levy, Hugo Balderas, Diego Hernández, Karla Zamora, Omar Torres, Carlos Pacheco), Company: El Roble, Company: Arup (People: Bruce McKinley, Frank Freudenberger, Matt Wiliams ) Company: Belzberg Architects (People: Joseph Ramiro, Kris Leese, Josh Hanley, Jennifer Wu, Chris Sanford, Elizabeth Lee, Jessica Hong, Andrew Kim, Carolina Murcia)
The building’s design concept stems from observations of site context —mainly climate and the composition of architecture perceived from the public realm.
A goal of the project was to create visual and spatial connections to the surrounding context through varying types of spaces and views. The building incorporates a roof deck with panoramic views and sliver openings in the facade’s external paneling framing views toward a local monument and canopies of street trees. Unique to this building design, as compared to other buildings on mid-block properties, is the shape and location of required open space as a slender open-ended courtyard atop the parking and along the side property line which becomes more broad at its street-fronting edge. This courtyard provides secure, private social space while maintaining a visual connection to the public realm and nearby buildings adding to the liveliness of the urban setting. The building above this courtyard pulls away from the adjacent property line enabling the building’s side facade to be glazed increasing daylighting and ventilation for occupant comfort. The side facade is clad in metal panels with perforations composed as layers of patterns which not only shade the glass from southern sun but afford varying aesthetic affects at different vantage points from the public realm. The side facade is prominent and arguably as important as the street-facing facade, and this idea is reinforced by forming the cladding as a contiguous surface from front to side —peeling and twisting to create openings and varying spatial conditions.
The Project is located on a mid-block property fronting a bustling thoroughfare and standing adjacent to older, low-rise buildings characteristic of the Cuauhtémoc neighborhood of Mexico City. The neighborhood is desirable and attracts businesses seeking alternatives to the high-rise office space on Paseo de la Reforma. Cuauhtémoc is less dense, easier to navigate, and offers greater opportunity to live and work in the same neighborhood. Locating a business here appeals to a particular workforce, and the mid-rise height of offices enables distinct opportunity to offer an identity through architectural design at a scale that businesses can claim as their own.
The size of the Project and its particular location within Cuauhtémoc is experienced at different speeds and proximities —on foot or bicycle, standing still at a cross-walk or street vendor one block away, and from vehicles passing by. Up close, the materials, textures, and colors of architecture and urban realm are as vibrant as the culture of the place. From afar, however, one notices the tendency for architecture to prioritize the street-facing facade while leaving side facades “undesigned.” Because buildings maximize their footprint on long narrow parcels, the undesigned side facades are broad, prominent above the shorter neighboring buildings, and constitute a significant portion of the aesthetic urban experience.
At the intersection just south of the building, people await their turn at streetlights or linger beside sidewalk vendors. The building is prominent in view, rising above the neighboring low-rise buildings. Because the building is designed as though it exists on the corner, it adds depth and aesthetic interest to the visual experience at the intersection.
When passing by along the sidewalk, the perforated panels can be touched. The patterns that are so clearly defined by looking up become abstract up close —a seemingly random field of circular openings and folded discs. The panels split and peel inward at the building’s edge revealing an entrance to the building.
The second floor courtyard is planted with a narrow view toward the sky above framed by the building walls. This courtyard visually connects to the upper floors of buildings across the street. The conspicuousness of this courtyard heightens the relationship between people in the courtyard to those observing at a distance.
The upper floors rise above the height of the adjacent building revealing the interior space to the southern sun. The perforated metal panels shade the exterior glass and operable window panels work in concert to provide comfortable and desirable workspace. The perforations abstract the city beyond into a field of colorful dots providing intimacy amidst an intriguing backdrop.
Finally, the roof terrace provides a desirable amenity to building occupants and affords panoramic views of the city including the iconic high-rise towers along Paseo de la Reforma —an ultimate reminder of place.