Around the building perimeter, 28 steel columns—built in segments that vary in width and position—rise from a concrete podium. These tall, tubular stalks are cinched and bound by a system of seven horizontal beams, one at each floor level, that bind the bundle together, helping bear up the floors and keeping the vertical columns from buckling outward. The skin is comprised of, from outside in, a coat of hexagonal aluminum tiles, waterproofing layer, a series of galvanized steel plates, and a 3D mesh structure of hexagonal links. These materials clad the tubular steel structure on the exterior, but the layers continue on the other side of the supports to form the interior walls: another layer of 3D mesh, followed by a layer of gypsum panels, polystyrene insulation, concrete plaster, and finally a layer of Weatherlastic that forms the gallery walls.The outer tile is made of 49 discrete “families” of hexagons, with seven primary genera dominating the field. The result is not a perfectly contiguous shell, but a complex patina. Worth noting, too, is the building’s focus on domestically sourced materials. Carlos Slim specified the use of homegrown building supplies whenever possible: Mexican plaster coats the museum walls, and Mexican aluminum covers the exterior. The rolled steel piping used in those vertical stems is Mexican as well.
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