Taller | Mauricio Rocha’s expansion and remodeling of the Anahuacalli Museum in Mexico City was just named the winner of the 2023 Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize by the College of Architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) in Chicago.
The $50,000 biennial prize celebrates the best recently-completed architectural projects across the Americas. Entries for this year's contest were completed between December 2018 and June of 2021 and were judged by a panel that included Julie Eizenberg, Philip Kafka, Alejandro Echeverri, Dirk Denison, Mónica Bertolino, and chair and 2018 MCHAP winner Sandra Barclay.
According to them, the project, which added three new buildings to Juan O’Gorman and Heriberto Pagelson’s original 1963 design of an earlier Diego Rivera concept, “creates a sensitive, open dialogue with the existing Anahuacalli Museum” while working out a solution that “addresses the unique heritage of the site and offers new public space and opportunities to encounter Rivera’s collection of pre-Hispanic art.”
The design relies on the use of volcanic stone as a base through which the additional buildings connect to the 2,500-year-old lava field the site sits on, activating the landscape while encouraging visitors’ engagement with the 59,000-piece collection.
Barclay commented that the incorporation of these elements “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.”
Echeverri added that the final product left behind a trail of “fluid, precise and powerful use of proportions, scales, surfaces, and sequences.”
“It is not mainly about buildings,” he said in summation, “it is about the exceptional soul of the site that the architects masterfully reshape.”
"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,” Rocha offered finally, speaking of the five other fellow shortlist finalists.
A publication featuring the project will follow. More information about the 2023 MCHAP awards program can be found here.
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