The first monographic exhibition dedicated to the work of Fernando Romero and his Mexico Citybased practice, LAR (Laboratory of Architecture), will be on view in the Heinz Architectural Center at Carnegie Museum of Art
, February 28May 31, 2009. Organized by Raymund Ryan, Carnegie Museum of Art curator of architecture, Laboratory of Architecture/Fernando Romero presents innovative designs for two dozen projects together with large-scale photographs and analysis of Mexico City that help to situate the work in context.
Educated at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City, Romero (born 1971) worked from 1997 to 2000 in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, for Rem Koolhaass Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), where he was project leader for the Casa da Música in Porto, Portugal (completed 2005). In 1999, Romero established LCM (Laboratorio de la Ciudad de México) in Mexico City as an architectural practice, a studio to investigate urban phenomena, and an organizer of cultural events. Romeros principal architectural activities are now carried out through LAR (Laboratory of Architecture), located opposite the home of Mexicos greatest architect, Luis Barragán (19021988).
Mexico has long had a key role in the visual arts, says Ryan. Painters, muralists, photographers, and architects such as Barragán contributed greatly to Modernism and to a discussion of how nations might develop economically and culturally. Fernando is a leading figure in the discussion today of how to apply advanced architectural thinking to the needs of contemporary society.
Visitors to Laboratory of Architecture/Fernando Romero will first encounter a sequence of projected images of Mexico City, one of the worlds most populous conurbations, by photographer Adam Wiseman, together with still images by photographer Pablo Lopez of sites where Romero is working. The innovative research conducted by Romero and his colleagues on Mexico City (published in 2000 as ZMVM Zona Metropolitana del Valle de México) and on the contentious border between Mexico and the United Stated (published in 2008 as Hyperborder) is graphically re-presented in this section of the exhibition.
From this research corridor, visitors will proceed to adjacent galleries to discover products of the architects investigation and thought process. Models of two dozen projects are gathered into four categories: Orthogonal, Non-Orthogonal, Organic, and Communal. Orthogonal includes sleek rectilinear pavilions that reinterpret the classic Modernist glass house, and an ambitious master plan for Mexico Citys Polanco district. Non-Orthogonal includes more complex crystalline shapes, some functioning as bridgesas in the case of Museum Bridge Mexico/USAto link disconnected terrains both literally and metaphorically.
Screens of translucent mesh will be inserted into the Heinz Architectural Center galleries to evoke the geometries of Romeros workdiagonal screens in the case of Non-Orthogonal and a womb-like envelope for Organic, the largest volume. Most of the models on display will be made from acrylic and illuminated from below through translucent bases. These glowing objects may evoke forms in incubation, says Ryan. Visitors should sense architects testing a range, or constellation, of spatial and structural ideas, from domestic to institutional and cultural programs.
Organic includes several museum proposals, both for Mexico and abroad, with internal sequences of non-orthogonal space expanding upward and outward to create expressive icons. Typically the ground or public realm is sculpted to extend inside these radical new forms. Evolving designs for the Soumaya Museum, an important collection of 20th-century art and part of Romeros Polanco master plan, are represented here by a table of many working models that bring the experimental nature of the architects studio into the galleries.
Finally, Communal introduces visitors to projects in less-affluent parts of Mexico City, neighborhoods where Romero and his colleagues aim to augment public space through their customary exploration of geometry and a more complexly inhabited ground plane. In these translations of abstract ideals to the realities of Mexico City, says Ryan, this young generation of Mexican architects is contributing to a culture that is increasingly globalized and hopefully democratic. Dissolving borders and building bridges, Romeros buildings incorporate a new sense of interconnectedness.
Projects represented in Laboratory of Architecture/Fernando Romero include:
Apartments for Artists, Colonia Roma, Mexico City, 19992001
Inbursa Headquarters, Las Lomas, Mexico City, 20012003
Glass Box Bank, Las Lomas, Mexico City, 20012002
Master Plan Polanco, Irrigación, Mexico City, 2007ongoing
El Eco Experimental Museum, San Rafael, Mexico City, 20062007
Retreat Residence, Olivar de los Padres, Mexico City, 20032004
Museum Bridge Mexico/USA, Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua/El Paso, Texas, 2000ongoing
Border Museum, Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Project, 2006
Bridging Teahouse, Jinhua, China, 20042007
Up Pavilion, Shenzhen, China, 20072008
Villa S, Las Lomas, Mexico City, 2005ongoing
Rachofsky House, Dallas, Texas, 2008ongoing
Ixtapa House, Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, Guerrero, 20002001
Childrens Room, San Angel, Mexico City, 20002001
Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw, Poland, Competition, 2007
Biodiversity Museum, Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, Competition, 2008
Santa Fe Tower, Santa Fe, Mexico City, 20022005
Soumaya Museum, Irrigación, Mexico City, 2007ongoing
Neza Market, Nezahualcoyotl, Mexico, 2007ongoing
Chapel, Colonia Cultura Maya, Mexico City, 2007ongoing
Architects Lecture and Opening Reception
Fri., Feb. 27
Lecture, 6:00 p.m., reception follows
Heinz Architectural Center galleries open until 8:30 p.m.
Architect Fernando Romero discusses the work of his practice LAR (Laboratory of Architecture), his analysis of Mexico City, and the design strategies behind complex projects in Mexico, the United States, and China.