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Design Studio led by Russell Thomsen.

In collaboration with Dutra Brown.

The project site is located in the residual space in the center of a large block in Mexico City.  It reaches the sidewalk on three of the four sides of the block, creating “urban corridors” with the potential to move pedestrians through the block.  The site conditions clearly call for an infill project; however, we wanted to maintain the existing porous characteristics of the site.  Thus, we moved forward by designing what would become a void between the existing block and our proposed project.  This strategy links to the way we have defined context.  Rather than thinking about context as one material or one building style, we believe context is about a much larger sampling of the urban fabric and the relationship between a variety of styles, textures, and materials.  This idea led us to some early formal studies in which we sampled a few neighboring blocks and digitally “cast” them to see their negative forms – in other words, give shape to the in-between conditions.  What resulted was an articulate relationship between void and mass, which we used to design the void that for our project.


The majority of the building sits above the existing site.  One would enter the existing block and look up to see the resulting impressions on the underside of the building.  Moments of vertical circulation tour a visitor up and around this void space as one ascends into the building.  The circulation becomes the negotiating factor between the realms of new and old.


The exterior of the building is clad in volcanic rock, a material native to Mexico City.  Being the material used to build the pyramids, a more subtle relationship is formed between Mexico City’s history of building in layers and our vision of a new approach to building on top of the old.

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