As colorful architecture of decades past gives way to contemporary, monochromatic, International Style buildings, one new tower at the center of Mexico City’s central business district stands out.
Af Finn MacLeod
In Mexico, the home country of Luis Barragan and Frida Kahlo, color reigns supreme. From the rainbow-painted city of Mazatlan to Mexico City’s candy-colored neighborhoods, the country is awash in whimsical hues and associated heavenly symbolism.
Located where Paseo de la Reforma meets Chapultepec Park, the city’s answer to Manhattan’s Central Park, a colorful new tower — sheathed in a diagonal grid of deep purple and black with bold neon orange and fuchsia spiral staircases — houses the new Mexico City headquarters of BBVA Bancomer.
Soaring 50 stories above the city, BBVA Tower accommodates more than 4,500 bank employees, centralizing the firm’s operations. Produced via an alliance known as LegoRogers — a collaboration between Mexican firm Legorreta + Legorreta, led by architect Victor Legorreta, and London-based Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, led by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Richard Rogers — the tower incorporates the design hallmarks of its two parent firms. With a mutual appreciation for linearity, color, and form, the firms came together to realize a tower emblematic of their two design aesthetics and expansive, renowned portfolios, resulting in a building unlike any other.
“The form of this building is based on a rethinking of conventional approaches to office space. The design creates a new hierarchy of vertical communities or ‘villages’ with open areas where staff and visitors can meet and enjoy spectacular views across the city,” said Richard Rogers, Founder, and Partner at Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners. “It serves as a landmark building that provides a clear link between Chapultepec Park and the Paseo de la Reforma. The highly sustainable design incorporates a façade that draws on the heritage of Mexican architecture; the result is a reinterpretation of the distinctive texture of traditional ‘celosia’ screens. This building successfully reflects the beauty of LegoRogers’s talents.”
In true Rogers form, the building expresses its personality through material, form, and a touch of quirk. Recalling the firm’s pioneering work on the Lloyd’s of London headquarters, BBVA Tower’s form is driven by the program, gathering disparate typologies using distinct shapes and material elements, to create an exuberant and coherent form. Inspired by Mexican vernacular architecture, the building’s color scheme reflects the design’s contextual approach, which incorporates Barragan’s signature fuchsia — a mainstay of Mexican color palettes — with contemporary takes on sunset orange, royal blue, and chartreuse.
The tower is urban whimsy at its best: soaring orange pillars meet inverted orange pyramids to enclose dining spaces for employees. Fuchsia ceilings frame landscaped terraces hundreds of meters above street level. Large multi-story windows pop out from the facade, bathing the interiors with light while disrupting an otherwise steel-enclosed facade. Structural trusses seem to soar in every direction, encouraging the eye to explore a dozen different perspectives of the same facade in a single glance.
Far above the bustle of the street, sky gardens located every nine floors create direct access to the outdoors, some featuring three-story spiral staircases. Landscaped with local Mexican plants and trees, the terraces offer respite to employees with unparalleled views of the city. The interiors, designed by Lego Rogers and SOM, are bathed in natural light and infused with color in keeping with the building’s vibrant exterior.
Designed to minimize resource consumption, waste, and greenhouse gas emissions, the tower incorporates passive daylight shading through its latticed facade, which simultaneously provides seismic protection through a reinforced bracing system.
Mexico proves to be a perfect location for Rogers’ signature colorful style. Contextual yet contemporary, the tower represents an evolution of Mexican architecture, continuing traditions of sustainability, beauty, and quality of life while injecting new energy and technology into the built environment of one of the world’s most populous cities. Now one of the tallest buildings in Mexico City, BBVA Tower is an early arrival to a district soon to be deeply changed by the addition of numerous skyscrapers by the world’s leading architects—but it is certain to remain unique on the city’s skyline.