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The building that innovated upon the office’s design in Mexican modern architecture

Wrriten by: Redacción Sordo Madaleno | August 7, 2018

You can read this article in: Español | English

Cataloged as a “countercurrent” building in Mexican modernity and Sordo Madaleno’s own work, Palmas 555 is a building whose striking form and innovative design mean it stands out in the urban landscape of Mexico City. This office building was designed and built by Juan Sordo Madaleno in 1975, with José Adolfo Wiechers and José Ignacio de Abiega as associate architects.

It includes a two-story base clad in polished granite for commercial use and nine floors of office space totaling 5,000 m2.

Each level of the tower forms a solid slab that is displaced horizontally with respect to the floor below, generating a free composition with a zigzag profile that grants it a unique and unmistakable character within modern Mexican architecture.

© Sordo Madaleno Arquitectos, photo by Guillermo Zamora

The design of the project was achieved following an extensive mass study. The displacement of the volumes was calculated, and though it is not immediately obvious they form a sequence of displacements that repeat every four flours. This movement creates a chiaroscuro effect and a real sensation of their dimension while concealing the recessed planes of the ribbon windows.

The façade of the office floors comprises windows supported on solid parapets clad in dark aluminum. This design reflects the need to protect the façades from direct solar gain, to which the building is exposed due to the orientation of the site. The projections resolve the issue of solar penetration while permitting pleasant views over the city.

© Sordo Madaleno Arquitectos, photo by Guillermo Zamora

The project is adapted to its conditions and urban context, which include a tight perimeter and sloping topography. The building has a parking lot on the basement and semi-basement levels with space for 250 vehicles, which takes advantage of the natural slope of the site. The vertical circulation nucleus is as central as possible, with the intention of reducing internal corridors and creating floors where most working areas enjoy natural light and ventilation. Juan Sordo Madaleno paid special attention to the spatial relations, which is clearly expressed in his work, as well as responding to the conditions of the program in each project.

The design of Palmas 555 extends to the external spaces. The fact it is set back from the site perimeter and incorporates landscaped elements helps to contribute to the city’s green areas.

© Sordo Madaleno Arquitectos, photo by Guillermo Zamora

This project represented a watershed in corporate building culture in Mexico thanks to an architectural design that generated quality spaces which are optimized for functionality and performance. This project enhances the quality of life of users without compromising the architectural design or losing sight of the fundamental concept of functionality while respecting modern form.

Palmas 555 was one of Juan Sordo Madaleno’s final works and stood apart from his earlier buildings, which asserted a more precise order. It is located on Avenida de las Palmas between the streets of Monte Stanovoi and Grampians.

We are posting this new series of articles that present the most outstanding architectural works of Juan Sordo Madaleno, one of the main references of modern architecture in Mexico, with the intention of serving as a guide for the national architecture’s study. These texts and images are from the Archive of Sordo Madaleno.

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