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BA Collective (formerly Belzberg Architects)

Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

October 2022


Hagy Belzberg, FAIA, OAA (Partner-in-Charge Architecture), Brock DeSmit, RA (Partner-in-Charge Architecture)


Jennifer Wu, RA, NCARB, LEED (Partner-in-Charge Interiors), Jessica Hong (Lead Designer), Hugo Balderas (Director of Architecture and Design), Carlos Pacheco (Director of Construction), Stephan Kordt, MSE, PE, SE (Façade Engineer


Grupo Anima


Bruce Damonte


XOMA is a seven story, 52,000-sf boutique hotel. The 14 guest suites are configured as one and two-bedroom apartments (625 sf – 1,100 sf) with full kitchens and private balconies. The hotel includes a ground-floor restaurant and lobby with adjacent demonstration kitchen for lessons on cooking local cuisine, as well as a roof terrace with an outdoor kitchen and pool.

The distinctive masonry façades are made of custom-designed breeze blocks that partially enclose guest suite balconies while framing views. As the façade rises from ground level, it bulges outward, making its presence felt from the sidewalk below while sweeping upward to the roof, resulting in a series of double-curved surfaces that dramatically touch down at street level. The façade lifts at the building’s corners to define points of entry and is sliced vertically to expose balconies to view and sunlight.

While the building form is contemporary, the handcrafted masonry construction evokes the architectural heritage of the region, which gained prominence throughout history due to its use of local materials, low cost, and ease of construction. The façade system is novel —it uses polymer-concrete material to balance lightness with strength, integrated C-shaped steel plates to conceal continuous structural reinforcing, and only two block types while achieving complex, varied forms through field modifications and subtle, incremental changes in the positioning of one block to the next. The façade’s design marries sophisticated digital design and traditional craftsmanship, resulting in an architecture that is complex in its structure and form yet feels simple and relatable.


XOMA is located in Mexico City’s culturally vibrant Roma Norte neighborhood, where layers of history provide a scaffold for contemporary urban life amidst daily celebrations of art, music, and cuisine. The project’s design, from its novel masonry façade to light fixtures made of local volcanic stone, fosters an authentic guest experience centered on Mexican craft.

The building integrates with the neighborhood by being both innovative and familiar. The distinctive façade echoes the materials and textures of the local architecture and provides a complementary scale at the ground level through a sculptural “lifting” of the façade to mark points of entry and horizontal datums on adjacent historical buildings. The floor plan is organized around a central open-air atrium embracing the temperate climate. A demonstration kitchen for teaching about local cuisine, a rooftop terrace with city views, and convenient access to nearby green spaces further enhance the guest experience of the neighborhood.

The utilization of local materials and manufacturing techniques yielded numerous benefits beyond architecture alone. Relying on relatively simple manufacturing and installation methods provided significant cost savings over using more sophisticated manufacturing tools and processes. This allowed the employment of numerous people within the community during the first year of the global pandemic when many job sites were shut down.

The owner and architect, along with their respective teams of people in the U.S. and Mexico, have developed an enduring and collaborative relationship that strives to create architecture born from multicultural influence. XOMA embodies this pursuit.


Since beginning to operate, XOMA has achieved remarkable success in delivering a unique guest experience for visitors to Mexico City. Despite its accomplishments as a hotel, the building was designed with resilience in mind, considering potential changes in use over time based on market and economic factors. The building’s floor plan, circulation, daylighting, and natural ventilation were also studied for residential and office use. Hotel rooms are designed to function as private apartment residences. Locations of operable windows within the central atrium glass were considered to provide cross-ventilation in a multi-tenant office use. The ground floor demonstration kitchen can be inexpensively converted into other uses, such as studio space for a local artist-in-residence or more traditional retail space.

The building's design has not only elevated the client’s brand but also unlocked higher-value project opportunities. The owner, who also serves as the general contractor, is leveraging this experience to produce new and innovative façade systems on other projects.

Locally sourced materials, from stone finishes to custom-made sofas and light fixtures crafted from local volcanic rock, imbue the space with authenticity and a true sense of place. Guests experience a direct connection to the culturally rich urban fabric. Beyond its unique aesthetics, the white breeze blocks reflect light indirectly into rooms while reducing thermal heat gain. Careful attention to daylighting and natural ventilation provides a comfortable setting for guests, visitors, staff, and supports a sustainable building operation.

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