Casa Corridor: Students explore strategic interventions in Mexico, Seattle

Six graduate architecture students rencently conducted a one-week site visit to Mexico as part of their ARCH 510 summer studio. Their six-week urban studio (located in Seattle, WA) presents them with the opportunity to investigate the relationship of architecture with the city, particularly addressing Mexico City’s Avenida Chapultepec, one of the City’s oldest streets that follows the original Aztec aqueduct that crossed Lake Texcoco into the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan.

Today, the avenue connects the City’s Chapultepec Park with the City Center. At times three to four traffic lanes in each direction, the street is clogged with cars and provides few locations for pedestrians and cyclists to cross. Recently, the city government proposed plans to construct an elevated shopping mall and park above and beside the avenue. The proposal kept the existing automobile infrastructure intact, requiring that pedestrians and cyclists climb one to two stories to cross the avenue. In early December 2015, voters overwhelmingly rejected the plan in a referendum.

The studio will propose an alternative plan that will place priority towards pedestrians and public space, and that will include the development of mixed-use and affordable housing proposals that will reuse and/or be inserted within the existing building infrastructure that fronts both sides of the avenue.

The studio began with a one-week research phase in Seattle focused on Mexico and Mexico City, followed by the site visit to Mexico City. Throughout the course of the site visit, students lived, toured, and worked in the city on a daily basis. Primary emphasis was placed on project / site tours, museum visits, office visits, and workshops.

In collaboration with Mexico City architects and professors, a multi-day workshop was also conducted within JSa’s (Javier Sanchez Arquitectos) office. Students worked in groups to explore issues pertaining to Mexico City in general, and the selected site in particular.

Having returned to Seattle, the remainder of the studio will see them developing their own individual architectural projects. At the completion of the studio, students will create a booklet documenting the results of the studio, which will be presented to the City of Mexico City Planning and Public Space Department.

(click on photo to enlarge)

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WSU Mexico City 2015 Rooftop

From lower left of image moving clockwise are: City Architect Ernesto Betancourt, Architect Francisco Pardo, Architect Felix Sanchez, WSU Architecture Student Drew Jepsen, City Planner & Architect Laura Jenka, WSU Architecture Student EJ Deocampo, Architect Victor Alcerreca, WSU Architecture student Richard Tung, Architect Javier Sanchez (Co-Instructor), WSU Architecture Student Richard Carlos, WSU Architecture Student Michael Tremain, WSU Adjunct Professor Robert Hutchison, and WSU Architecture Student Vlanka Catalan.