21 May

Airport's Construction site before cancellation

Dear fellow Mexican architects:

I have thought a long time about whether I should write this letter to you or not. Perhaps I have no right to complain because I don’t live in Mexico, but I went to architecture school in Mexico City. But after talking it over with five or ten fellow architects and realizing that some of us had similar concerns.  I thought it was really important to express my concerns given the present situation.

First, I think we need to talk about what it means when an important project like the new International airport was cancelled. We all know it was collaboration between a well-known international architect, Norman Foster, and a Mexican architect, Fernando Romero. ----Although I understand they were many people and companies involved there is a kind of iconic aspect and prestige that this type of project was bringing to Mexican architecture. I’m well aware that by definition this is a global neo-liberal project, but not under the erroneous and manipulative concept of neo-liberalism that the Mexican administration is bastardizing.  However the point here is that it was an offense, a low blow on Mexican architecture. The worst part was its replacement with a project that it wasn’t even designed by an architect, it was kind “drafted” by one but actually designed mainly by military engineers.  The project is as far as quality is bad, but even worse that that is once again the discrediting factor to Mexican architects and architecture. There should have been an formal or informal request for a National competition for a new airport at the Santa Lucia site or even better finding an feasible new site.

What really makes me wonder is why there wasn’t any kind of strong response from different architecture organization like the CAM SAM or more importantly from the Mexican architecture academic sector: faculty, students and administrators seriously protesting this constant offensive and discrediting attitude. I know most citizens have no “agency” to change this insulting federal government policy but it is important to build a sense of respect and credibility for students and young architects and for the future of the practice and the discipline.  They need to believe in their profession.

Second, once again there is no serious formal complaint or at least I haven’t seen it from architect-planners professional or academic regarding the disastrous ecological and economic impact that the Maya Train System as well as the Dos Bocas Refinery will have upon the country’s already debilitated economy. There should be some sort of real protests! ---I think it is very important to set the example and not to forget your responsibility to the profession and to the country’s future.

I know this is a tough moment when a new reality like this pandemic has transformed the world but those capricious projects and some others to come from this unfortunate administration will keep undermining Mexican architecture and architects. Is there a way to create a united front at least in the protection of the profession that includes students, faculty, administrators, practicing architects as well as sympathizers?

I know I’m being extremely naïve, but don’t say it can’t be done, please excuse my bravado but here are some suggestions, I’m assuming the lead can be taken by the architectures schools in different states.

1. Architecture schools creating relationships through specific projects or competitions with local government agencies (from different parties) about necessary, speculative or “new normal” projects.

2. Architecture schools creating relationships through specific projects or competitions with companies and business sectors that are part of a resisting front against the federal economic policies.

3.The federal government a couple of days ago in classic fashion undermined the role and the importance of the engineering profession. Can architects and engineers at least for this specific issue of professional discrediting create some kind resistance alliance?

4. Organisms like the CAM SAM create online conferences with the participation of Mexican architects discussing these issues.

5. Large private architecture systems like Tec of Monterrey, Ibero, La Salle etc. create online conferences with the participation of Mexican architects discussing these issues.

6. Large public architecture systems like UNAM, Politécnico, etc. create online conferences with the participation of Mexican architects discussing these issues.

7. Architecture schools creating more architecture and urban planning studios (talleres) with empowering contemporary topics.

8. Construction companies create online conferences with the participation of Mexican engineers, architects and related professionals discussing these issues.

There has to be some kind of action, something needs to happen. I know that all of you're doing a great job. But there are some lots of areas of impact that could and should be incorporated.

We as architects want to have agency we want to be a profession of the future, I know sometimes you need to be humble but many other times you need to be loud and controversial.

Gabriel Esquivel

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