CHICAGO, IL (March 24, 2023) – The remodeling and expansion of the Anahuacalli Museum in Mexico City by Taller | Mauricio Rocha is the recipient of the 2023 Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize (MCHAP), MCHAP Director Dirk Denison and Jury Chair Sandra Barclay announced today. Awarded by the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) College of Architecture, the biennial prize recognizes a built work in the Americas that best embodies architectural excellence.
The winning work creates a sensitive, open dialogue with the existing Anahuacalli Museum, which was conceived by the artist Diego Rivera in the 1940s and realized over the following decades in collaboration with the architect Juan O’Gorman. The ecological and cultural significance of the surrounding volcanic landscape, in Mexico City’s Pedregal de San Ángel, were key considerations for the architects. The intervention offers a “contemporary interpretation,” in the architects’ words, that addresses the unique heritage of the site and offers new public space and opportunities to encounter Rivera’s collection of pre-Hispanic art.
Mauricio Rocha, the designer of the Anahuacalli expansion, will receive $50,000 in funding toward research and the development of a publication as well as the MCHAP Chair of Architecture at IIT.
The announcement of the award took place during a benefit held in IIT’s historic S. R. Crown Hall, a Ludwig Mies van der Rohe–designed landmark and MCHAP’s base of operations. The benefit followed a day of dialogue among finalist architects, the projects’ clients, the MCHAP jury, and IIT students and faculty.
The 2023 Americas Prize recognizes the best built work in the Americas completed between December 2018 and June 2021. The benefit celebrated six finalist works selected by the jury from among nearly 300 nominations submitted by MCHAP’s global network. To finalize their decision, the jury toured the finalist projects in person and met with the architects, their teams, and their clients; during the event, jury members presented videos that showcased both the finalist works and these interactions. The MCHAP 2023 jury includes Barclay, whose Edificio E at the University of Piura was awarded the 2018 Americas Prize; Mónica Bertolino; Dirk Denison (ex officio); Alejandro Echeverri; Julie Eizenberg; and Philip Kafka.
In his remarks, Denison pointed to one characteristic over all others shared among the finalists: generosity. “All six finalists give more than what is asked for. They set the stage for a more generous future,” Denison said. Recognizing the resonance with Mies’s famous statement “less is more,” Denison added, “The MCHAP finalists all do more with less. This is the charge they answer and the lesson they offer.”
The evening’s program also recognized two special honorees for their longstanding contributions to architectural excellence: Lynn Osmond, CEO of Choose Chicago, and Sharon Prince, founder of Design for Freedom and CEO and founder of the Grace Farms Foundation. The benefit was chaired by Michael P. Galvin, Chairman of the IIT Board of Trustees.
The Anahuacalli Museum Remodeling and Expansion
Completed in June 2021, Taller | Mauricio Rocha’s intervention introduces three new buildings—storage, a workshop, and offices—and a walkway that integrates these additions with the original museum. The project also converts several existing structures to new uses and redesigns elements of the museum’s exhibitions.
Barclay praised the “subtle relationships” that the extension creates with the structures designed by O’Gorman and Rivera, who imagined the site as a “City of the Arts.” “At the same time, the project radically transforms the complex, revealing the qualities of the ecological reserve that contains it and creating a dynamic space open to the community,” she said.
The jury highlighted the project’s interaction with the Pedregal, a distinctive landscape of lava fields that resulted from the eruption of the Xitle volcano nearly 2,500 years ago. The new buildings’ volcanic stone bases reference the materiality of both the original structures and the ground below. Even more significantly, much of Taller | Mauricio Rocha’s intervention allows the landscape to extend underneath the additions, reinforcing its presence and encouraging visitors to encounter it. “Mauricio Rocha proposes a typology of independent and permeable volumes, giving continuity to the floor of the existing plaza and, in turn, the rough and irregular topography of the natural lava flow,” Barclay added.
Alejandro Echeverri noted the project’s “fluid, precise and powerful use of proportions, scales, surfaces, and sequences” in a landscape that would otherwise be “invisible.” “It is not mainly about buildings—it is about the exceptional soul of the site that the architects masterfully reshape,” he said.
“The way the museum extension mingles with the landscape speaks volumes about where architecture is headed, and the way it honors the past is fearless, heartfelt, and original,” Julie Eizenberg added.
For Barclay, the additions’ resonance with the landscape and existing buildings are of direct benefit to the museum’s community. “The extension offers the community an unexpected experience that connects them to the place and its roots and generates a sense of belonging for the user and the visitor,” she said.
“The Anahuacalli Museum articulates ancestral culture, nature, and the community in an in an exceptional way,” Mónica Bertolino added. “It does so through an architectural intervention that reinterprets and accompanies in a contemporary key the strong presence of the pre-existence of this site.”
The social contribution of the museum expansion was particularly resonant for Rocha, and was a quality he admires in the other finalist works. “All the finalists are concerned with architecture that has a deep ethical and political character, that achieves spaces with a greater capacity for collective integration and spatial dignity. In this sense, we all win, and MCHAP is strengthened by building a serious award with great social responsibility,” he said.
The 2023 MCHAP Competition
MCHAP launched its fourth prize cycle in Venice, Italy, in August 2021. The network of nominators submitted projects for consideration beginning in November of that year. MCHAP announced a jury selection of 39 outstanding projects in June 2022.
The six finalist works were announced at an event that gathered members of the architectural community and press in Medellín, Colombia, this February. The other five finalists for the 2023 Americas Prize are:
· Guadalupe Market Colectivo C733
· The Menil Drawing Institute Johnston Marklee
Houston, United States
· Park in the Prado neighborhood Mayor’s Office of Medellín – Secretary of Infrastructure
· The Polygon Gallery Patkau Architects
North Vancouver, Canada
· Valois Housing Building José Cubilla
The MCHAP Prize for Emerging Practice is a corresponding acknowledgment of the best built work in the Americas authored by a practice in its first ten years of operation. In September 2022, MCHAP awarded the 2022 Prize for Emerging Practice to the Colosio Embankment Dam in Nogales, Mexico, by Taller Capital.
Recent MCHAP publications include MCHAP 2: The Americas, edited by Florencia Rodriguez, which presents the results of the 2016 prize cycle; Landscapes of Intimacy, a book developed in collaboration with the 2018 Americas Prize winners, Barclay & Crousse; and Being the Mountain, a publication that extends MCHAP-related research by PRODUCTORA, winners of the 2016 Prize for Emerging Practice.
The Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize (MCHAP) is a biennial prize that acknowledges the best built works of architecture in the Americas. MCHAP was conceived by Illinois Institute of Technology College of Architecture in 2013.
Visit http://arch.iit.edu/prize/mchap/ for more information.
ABOUT ILLINOIS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
Based in the global metropolis of Chicago, Illinois Tech was born to liberate the collective power of difference to advance technology and progress for all. It is the only tech-focused university in the city, and it stands at the crossroads of exploration and invention, advancing the future of Chicago and the world. It offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering, computing, architecture, business, design, science and human sciences, and law. Illinois Tech students are guaranteed hands-on experiences, personalized mentorship, and job readiness through the university’s one-of-a-kind Elevate program. Its graduates lead the state and much of the nation in economic prosperity. Its faculty and alumni built the Chicago skyline. And every day in the living lab of the city, Illinois Tech fuels breakthroughs that change lives.
Visit iit.edu for information on all available academic programs.
COLLEGE OF ARCHITECTURE
The College of Architecture at Illinois Institute of Technology builds on a legacy of disciplined experimentation in materials and technologies to educate and inspire the next generation of architects and landscape architects. From its landmark campus and home at S. R. Crown Hall, IIT Architecture champions an interdisciplinary approach to education and research that is simultaneously local and global in its impact. IIT Architecture students are educated to address complex, contemporary challenges of designing and constructing across all scales. Both faculty and students enjoy a longstanding relationship with professional practice in Chicago, a city with a vibrant history of innovation in architecture, design, landscape architecture, and urbanism. Visit arch.iit.edu.
MCHAP is supported by Kohler Co., the Alphawood Foundation, the Mies van der Rohe Society at the Illinois Institute of Technology, and AIA Chicago.
Visit www.mchap.co/ for more information.