Mexico City, Mexico
PROGRAM Skyscraper—including offices, hotel, residences, and amenities—and retail base, forming the centerpiece of the regeneration of Santa Fe, Mexico City
AREA 120,000 m2 (1,290,000 sf), including 70,000 m2 (753,000 sf) offices, 25,000 m2 (269,000 sf) hotel / residential, 25,000 m2 (269,000 sf) retail, and 5,000 parking spaces
STATUS Invited competition 2018; second prize 2019
PERSONNEL Elina Spruza Chizmar (PL), Maur Dessauvage, Nicolas Lee, Elizabeth Nichols, Kelsey Olafson, Joshua Ramus, Teng Xing
CONSULTANTS Front, Magnusson Klemencic
In most spheres of knowledge, making incremental advancements to one’s own ideas is a sign of serious, committed thought. In architecture, the continual refinement of an architectural language is appreciated, but the ongoing progression of non-stylistic ideas is largely regarded as intellectually corrupt. As a firm committed to architecture doing things, not merely representing things, REX practices design as an iterative critique from which an argument evolves. We therefore often return—unapologetically—to our previously advanced ideas to mine them further…or ‘re-evolve’ them.
Invited to participate in a competition in Santa Fe, Mexico City with a complex program, a large amount of deliverables, and a very short, two-and-a-half week timeframe, we unabashedly (and polemically) “mashed up” and re-evolved the underlying ideas from three of our previous competition proposals: Al Jazeera & QMC Headquarters, IIᴑᴑ, and Farley Annex High Garden.
Contemporary commercial architecture is swiftly being reduced to willful forms, enveloping and at odds with market-driven, generic floorplates. In contrast, ‘CDMX Mash-Up’ uses ideal development standards to create an economically robust and graceful design that contributes an elegant inflection into Mexico City’s evolving skyline.
To optimize operational costs, human comfort, and sustainability (and hence lease rates), office buildings should be slender bars oriented east-west or north-south. Taking advantage of its narrow site’s north-south orientation, CDMX Mash-Up manifests these benefits in a very specific, high-performance building organization.
This north-south orientation maximizes daylighting and cross-ventilation year-round, and passive heating in winter, all significantly reducing energy use and therefore electricity costs. The tower’s 21 m width (ideal for the north-south variant) in combination with custom blinds enable sunlight to penetrate the full depth of its floors without heat gain or glare.
This width also creates efficient open and closed office layouts on a 1.5 m module and equally efficient, double-loaded corridors of hotel rooms—of a market-desirable 38 m2—and rental housing units.
21 m office floorplate (from sunrise to sunset)
The bar’s length is cut to 80 m and capped by cores to match maximum allowable distances under Mexican code, resulting in a building footprint of 107 m x 21 m with an 85% efficiency.
Top to bottom: Residential plan (with one-, two-, and three-bedroom units) / hotel plan / open & closed office plan
This footprint is extruded to create 32 floors (70,000 m2) of office space and 15 floors (25,000 m2) of hotel and residential units. The office floors have a floor-to-ceiling height of 2.7 m, with 3.3 m at the window walls; their floorplates are 1.3 m thick, structured with castellated steel beams that taper at each end to create the additional perimeter height. The hotel and housing units also have a floor-to-ceiling height of 2.7 m; their floorplates’ thickness is minimized to 0.5 m by use of concrete “hollow-core” concrete planks.
Taking its cue from the highly successful Asian hotel model where lobbies and amenities are placed as high as possible, CDMX Mash-Up’s hotel lobby and a ‘Playground’ of amenities are inserted between the offices and the hotel / residential on the 34th to 39th floors. Accessible to all, the Playground includes a piano bar, a restaurant, a ballroom, pre-function spaces, meeting rooms, a gym, and other attractions. This public space at the tower’s midlevel affords panoramic views over the Santa Fe district and creates a dynamic node enlivening the Mexico City skyline.
Sky lobby with meeting rooms above
The dual core design provides high-efficiency vertical transportation, with: dedicated shuttle elevators that move quickly from ground lobby to sky lobby and its amenity Playground; separate low- and high-rise office elevator banks; dual hotel elevator banks stacked above the office elevator banks; dedicated high-speed residential elevators that bypass all other uses; and ample goods elevators.
At the office levels, castellated steel beams span the full width of the building, providing column-free interiors for maximum flexibility. The holes in the beams reduce weight by removing steel from the webs where material is least effective, while simultaneously providing prefabricated locations for routing building services. The castellated beams are tapered to increase the height and view at the window wall.
At the sky lobby and Playground levels, a structural diagonal bracing grid (“diagrid”)—built-up steel boxes encased in concrete for fireproofing, with dampers at strategic locations—links the cores to increase the building’s stiffness, optimize wind resistance, and provide additional seismic energy dissipation. The diagrid also acts as a multi-story truss, supporting the structural columns above and below, creating a column-free ground lobby.
At the hotel and residential floors, one story tall trusses—staggered vertically—span between columns. The story-tall trusses allow floor framing to attach into their W310 truss chords to minimize floor thickness and maximize floor-to-ceiling clearance. Combined with hollow-core precast concrete planks that span the 9 m distance between trusses, both the overall weight and overall floor depth are greatly reduced.
CDMX Mash-Up’s fully sealed, actively pressurized, closed cavity façade with integrated, motorized blinds enables exceptional transparency, solar control, thermal efficiency, compactness, and acoustic isolation. When deployed, the motorized blinds maximize daylight harvesting and control glare; when they are retracted, the system’s laminated low-iron glass achieves excellent light transmission and color rendition. The blinds also indicate the distinct program types: the sleek appearance of metal blinds at the offices is a counterpoint to the warm and inviting qualities of the specialty kiln-treated wood blinds at the hotel and residential units.
Loggias on the residential floors feature a unitized curtain wall with an operable bi-folding panel. When the operable panel is closed, it remains flush with the plane of the typical glazing on the building. When fully open, the unit is positioned overhead in parallel to the terrace floor; it can be partially opened to curate the extent of natural light and fresh air.
When the morning sun strikes the east side of the building, its eastern blinds deploy, while its western blinds remain retracted from the night before. When the afternoon sun strikes the west side of the building, its eastern blinds retract, while its western blinds deploy.
(For further information, please refer to FAÇADE DETAILS tab.)
View of tower from east with blinds deployed and retracted
A multilevel, landscaped public square and shopping experience (with 25,000 m2 of retail and 5,000 parking spaces) adjacent to CDMX Mash-Up positions the development as an urban activator in this growing district and allows an additional 25,000 m2 of GLA to the tower.
Depressions in the public square form multifaceted windows and light wells into the retail that follow the organization below.
The retail garden is parceled into highly programmed spaces, such as an amphitheater, a French garden, a tree grove, a water feature, or a wild topographical adventure. Food carts on the travertine paths around these spaces encourage visitors to linger longer in this oasis.
CDMX Mash-Up forms a coherent urban ensemble; its powerful simplicity pays homage to the namesake of Calle Luis Barragan, which winds through the garden and park.
Bird’s eye view of the retail garden
Site and retail plans
Instead of inserting a trendy glass tower into this prime location, CDMX Mash-Up strives to create an edifice that is simultaneously economically strategic, elegant, and of its context.
Images Credits: 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 13, 14, 15, 25: Luxigon