AO Tower, Mexico
Roma Norte is one of the most vibrant districts of Mexico City, albeit an area that was badly affected by the 2017 earthquake that shook the city. This office building, by architect Jorge Hernández de la Garza, is part of a wave of reconstruction that seeks to reactivate the area. It is surrounded by galleries, restaurants, bars, bookstores and other public spaces that imbue the neighborhood with life.
Given this context, the building seeks to converse with the city, linking the day-to-day life of the office with that of the streets in the immediate surroundings. For this reason, the large openings and the terraces of the building seek to dialogue with their surroundings, as if the offices wish to go out to the city while inviting the city to look inside.
Yet despite the oversize openings, there is also a sense of solidity to the volume, a serious structural response to the seismic conditions that have caused damage to the area in the past. The concrete walls, as well as the steel beams and columns, express the strength of the structure and evoke a sense of the building’s roots planted firmly in the soil. The bold use of steel is almost sculptural, as well as fulfilling a structural function. Reconstruction also means resilience, rooting and permanence. On the front elevation this materiality helps the slim facade blend in with its immediate neighbours, its windows and balconies discreet and understated. The rear elevation is considerably more open, with floor-ceiling windows on each floor set within a concrete box-like frame and planted with dramatic greenery.
The route through the building culminates in a rooftop terrace on the last level, accessed via a pair of spiral staircases on the outside of the building. The city surrounds on all sides – to the north and south, all is suddenly within sight. From this vantage point on the rooftop of this new building, the observer feels part of the city, anchored to its soil. The work is already part of the city and fully participates in its permanent reconstruction.
Project: AO Tower / Location: Mexico City, Mexico / Architect: Hernandes de la Garza / Project team: Jorge Hernández de la Garza, Miguel Angel Loyola, Martin Mena, Verónica Quiroz / Site area: 2,400m² / Construction: FG2 / Completion: 2021 / Photograph: ©Luis Young (courtesy of the architect); ©Jorge Hernández de la Garza