Corporate Architecture Mexico. As I was completing my degree in Architecture my professor and mentor Arq. Enrique Carral Icaza†, invited me to join him in a new firm as a Junior Partner. He had ended his previous firm “Alvarez y Carral” a firm that had been considered by many the best, including building such as the IBM Headquarters building at Campos Eliseos Mexico City as well as many other corporate architecture designs. It was an honor I was not expecting.
We had no funds and really had to start from the bottom, although he was well know, the times were very difficult, so it was good I was young as I became the manager and leader, except when it came to design, he was the master. My mentor and I did learn from him everything I hadn’t at school.
The partners were Enrique and I, as well as Arnold W. Tucker† head of Knoll Furniture in Mexico, and who would direct our interiors, and Enrique’s nephew Arq. Javier Carral Escalante† who’s brother Jose (Pepe) was the Vice President of bank of America in Mexico.
Our first project was Hospitality rather than Corporate architecture, “Los Encinos” Golf Club House, it was actually my connection, and I had already done a project while in school for it, though the new one was much better with Enrique’s hand. Many years later after our company had disolved Javier designed and built the new Club House.
In those days I saw my practice being in big buildings only. We did a preliminary for the headquarters of HYLSA, the steel conglomerate of the Monterrey Group. We did another Hospitality project a small Shopping Center with a church as well. In the UK I had done New Towns tour and focused myself on Centers or how the UK calls them Centres, so designing a shopping-social center was down my ally.
Finally, due to political and family relations a true Corporate Building came along. It turns out I knew through my sister Barbara’s husband Augusto Monterroso, the Minister of Science and Technology. I had met him at a party and asked him outright if he agreed with me it would be good for his institution to have a headquarter building instead of being spread into several rentals at the time. He said you are right, however it won’t get done, nor is it a priority. Well it turned out UNAM, the National University of Mexico and my alma mater, had something in mind. We were hired to design the, 300, 000 square feet buildings.
It was very successful, I’m sure I made my parents happy after the investment they had done on me and my education. Right after the inauguration, the peso devaluated horribly and work in Mexico stopped dramatically, and “Aca Joe”, came to my rescue and I moved to San Francisco to design over 300 stores worldwide.
I returned to see CONACYT building now Universum Museum of Science 30 years later. It was still there from Brutalist gray concrete now they had painted it Barragan orange, such is life.