SCI-Arc Students and Faculty Design MEXTRÓPOLI 2018 Pavilion

MEXTRÓPOLI is an annual four-day festival celebrating Mexico City’s architecture and urban fabric, and the 2018 edition was held between March 15–20. It is Latin America’s only forum aimed to facilitate the generation and exchange of knowledge focused on reimagining the built environment. More than 52,000 attendees included students, citizens, professionals, tourists, public servants, artists, and other experts.

The festival positions Mexico City as a diverse setting that encourages designers to be both creative and critical. MEXTRÓPOLI includes conferences, workshops, and outdoor exhibitions and pavilions. SCI-Arc Mexico City’s satellite program—which promotes exchange between students enrolled in a SCI-Arc Vertical Studio and Ibero-American University—sponsored and participated in MEXTRÓPOLI 2018 by producing installations, a gallery show, and panel discussions. 

For this year’s MEXTRÓPOLI festival, a team of SCI-Arc students led by faculty member Herwig Baumgartner designed the 1800 pavilion, which was located on the west side of the Alameda Central park in downtown Mexico City adjacent to a monumental fountain. The pavilion, which measured approximately 22 feet tall by 40 feet long, comprised a structure formed with materials that are typically concealed—#3 and #4 rebar painted black—set atop an obsidian base.

The pavilion was designed in multiple units that were prefabricated and then transported and assembled onsite. Column trusses featured cross-braced rebar members anchored by steel base plates. Above, truss beams integrated with secondary elements, including structural gray shades and nonstructural blue shades. Custom connectors accommodated a variety of intersections between the many segments of rebar.

A panel discussion on the topic of craftsmanship in a digital era was held under the pavilion on March 19th and included Hernan Diaz Alonso, SCI-Arc Director and CEO; Alejandro Haiek; Herwig Baumgartner, SCI-Arc Applied Studies Coordinator; Karen Burkart; Brendan MacFarlane, SCI-Arc Visiting Faculty; Francisco Pardo, SCI-Arc Mexico City Representative; and Anna Merci. SCI-Arc also sponsored MacFarlane (B.Arch ‘84), as the festival’s keynote speaker. He is a co-founder of the Paris-based multidisciplinary architecture and design agency Jakob + MacFarlane.

Team members of the 1800 pavilion project: Faculty leader: Herwig Baumgartner, SCI-ARC Applied Studies Coordinator Project coordinator: Francisco Pardo, SCI-Arc Mexico City Representative Project management: Ximena Orozco Design team: Wilbur Estrada and Austin Anderson Assistant: Garrett Santo Students: Evan Mason, Andy Magner, José García, and Hsengtai Lintner Structural consultant: Matt Melnik of Nousse Engineering, SCI-Arc faculty