The Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize (MCHAP) announced “Pavilion on the Zocalo,” in Mexico City, as the winner of the 2016 MCAHP.emerge Award. Designed by Mexico City–based architectural studio Productora, co-founded by architects Abel Perles, Carlos Bedoya, Victor Jaime, and Wonne Ickx, the biennial prize recognizes projects from emerging firms across the Americas for their architectural expression, ability to communicate a series of ideas to a public audience, and representation of local culture. The project was chosen from a group of five finalists announced in March.
Constructed for Mexico City’s annual Culture Fair two years ago, the design was conceived to highlight how migration has affected the capital city’s development. The three-piece, site-specific temporary building housed an exhibition, curated by Mexican architect Alberto Odériz, in its center.
The installation's focus on rethinking urban space was consistent with the ethos of Wiel Arets, Assoc. AIA, dean of the college of architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), in Chicago, who instituted the MCHAP program and promoted it through his published work, “Rethinking Metropolis,” in 2013. “The prize aspires to be a platform for investigation, development, and implement of advanced forms of architectural practice that enhance the essential relationship between quality of life and the quality of the built environment,” Arets told Nowness, a publication of IIT's architecture program, in 2013.
The pavilion was designed for fluid passage: a straight boardwalk led visitors into the structure, which featured a 90-square-meter (968-square-foot) equilateral triangle. Once inside, visitors could view Odériz’s presentation, chronicling the evolution of the central Mexican metropolis and the migration patterns of its past and current inhabitants. The interior was uninterrupted by columns, and the roof consisted of several smaller triangular segments woven together, which connected to a structural façade made of the wooden partitions. A nautilus-shaped exit route deposited visitors in the middle of the city's main square. The pavilion was prefabricated off-site and erected in eight days.
According to the studio's website, the structure's geometric forms and how they play off of each other symbolize the experience of immigrants, who arrive in a new place and subsequently become immersed in it. Wood slats were chosen as reference to materials used in the manufacturing of the ships bringing immigrants to their new home in Mexico.
The announcement was made on Friday, April 1, at the MCHAP.emerge symposium in Chicago. The winning project team, represented at the awards dinner by Productora's Ickx, received an MCHAP Research Professorship in the College of Architecture at IIT for the 2016–2017 academic year, which includes up to $25,000 in funding.