Launch Slideshow

Mayaguez Swimming Facilities Architect: Fster  Partners, San Juan. Completion: 2010. Brief: After hosting part of this summers Central American and Caribbean Games, the $28 million centerwhich features passive solar technologieswill become a public facility.

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico

  • Mayaguez Swimming Facilities Architect: Fster  Partners, San Juan. Completion: 2010. Brief: After hosting part of this summers Central American and Caribbean Games, the $28 million centerwhich features passive solar technologieswill become a public facility.

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    Mayaguez Swimming Facilities Architect: Fster Partners, San Juan. Completion: 2010. Brief: After hosting part of this summers Central American and Caribbean Games, the $28 million centerwhich features passive solar technologieswill become a public facility.

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    Fúster + Partners

    Mayaguez Swimming Facilities
    Architect: Fúster Partners, San Juan.
    Completion: 2010.
    Brief: After hosting part of this summers Central American and Caribbean Games, the $28 million center—which features passive solar technologies—will become a public facility.

  • Sala Sinfnica Pablo Casals Architect: Rodolfo Fernandez Ramirez Architects, San Juan. Completion: 2009. Brief: $34 million, 1,300-seat home of the Puerto Rico Symphony.

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    Sala Sinfnica Pablo Casals Architect: Rodolfo Fernandez Ramirez Architects, San Juan. Completion: 2009. Brief: $34 million, 1,300-seat home of the Puerto Rico Symphony.

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    Carl Rosenber/Acentech

    Sala Sinfónica Pablo Casals
    Architect: Rodolfo Fernandez Ramirez Architects, San Juan.
    Completion: 2009.
    Brief: $34 million, 1,300-seat home of the Puerto Rico Symphony.

  • Science City Master Plan Architects: Toro Ferrer Arquitectos and archUD, San Juan; Field Operations, New York. Completion: 2007. Brief: 80-acre development on the University of Puerto Ricos Ro Piedras campus will be built over 20 years and will include R&D, office, hospitality, housing, and civic spaces.

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    Science City Master Plan Architects: Toro Ferrer Arquitectos and archUD, San Juan; Field Operations, New York. Completion: 2007. Brief: 80-acre development on the University of Puerto Ricos Ro Piedras campus will be built over 20 years and will include R&D, office, hospitality, housing, and civic spaces.

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    Field Operations

    Science City Master Plan
    Architects: Toro Ferrer Arquitectos and archUD, San Juan; Field Operations, New York.
    Completion: 2007.
    Brief: 80-acre development on the University of Puerto Ricos Ro Piedras campus will be built over 20 years and will include R&D, office, hospitality, housing, and civic spaces.

  • Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino Architect: RTKL Associates, Chicago. Completion: 2009. ¨Brief: $210 million, 490,000-s.f. building is seeking to be the first LEED-certified hotel in the Caribbean.

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    Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino Architect: RTKL Associates, Chicago. Completion: 2009. ¨Brief: $210 million, 490,000-s.f. building is seeking to be the first LEED-certified hotel in the Caribbean.

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    Luis A. Muñoz

    Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino
    Architect: RTKL Associates, Chicago.
    Completion: 2009.
    Brief: $210 million, 490,000-s.f. building is seeking to be the first LEED-certified hotel in the Caribbean.

Puerto Rico’s strategic position in the Caribbean Sea made it the target of many European nations beginning in the late 1500s, until the 1898 Treaty of Paris ended the Spanish-American War and made the island a U.S. territory. Over the years, Puerto Rico’s various occupiers blended with indigenous inhabitants to create a pastiche of continental and tropical cultures, as evidenced by the isle’s people and its architecture.

“You can find an immense catalog of styles—from 16th century Spanish architecture with lots of European vernacular to modern international designs,” says Mario Dumont Gaztambide, a designer at Carlos E. Betancourt Llambías Arquitectos, in Santurce. “The mix of cultures and history is what Puerto Rico is all about.”

While hospitality projects move forward, other commercial development and home building have stalled. “Construction [has] been greatly affected by the economic climate,” says Nataniel Fúster Felix, principal of San Juan’s Fúster + Partners. “Many offices have seen their staff greatly reduced. I hope the island can reposition itself as a center for investment and design.”

That’s the plan, certainly. Hoping to leverage the strength of the pharmaceutical, life sciences, and medical-device manufacturing sectors, the territory’s government is beginning to push the island as a hub for research and development, too. “We’re focusing on innovation and turning ourselves into a knowledge-based economy,” says Javier Vázquez Morales, executive director of the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Co. Proof of that commitment is the 80-acre Science City under way on the University of Puerto Rico’s Río Piedras campus, in San Juan. The project includes lab and office space, housing, and a convention center and will be built out over the next two decades. Morales adds, “We want to attract R&D facilities and scientists to do more science and discovery.”


POPULATION/EMPLOYMENT
2009 population: 3.9 million; current unemployment: 16%.

OFFICE MARKET
In the first quarter of 2010, San Juan’s 8.7-million-s.f. office market had 9.3% vacancy; asking rates: $19.50/s.f.–$37.50/s.f.

RESIDENTIAL MARKET
Current median home sale price: $230,000.

MARKET STRENGTHS
• Strong manufacturing and professional services sector
• Highly skilled, bilingual workforce
• Caribbean location

MARKET CONCERNS
• Government bureaucracy
• High unemployment
• Lagging economy

FORECAST
“As an optimist, I imagine things will pick up,” says José Javier Toro, principal of Toro Ferrer Arquitectos, in San Juan. “Periods of scarcity can sometimes encourage creativity.”