From a 50-Year-Old Historic Building to an Example of Modernity and Innovative Design

Aleksandar Sasha Zeljic
Principal, Design Director
Gensler, Chicago

In 1971 the Polyformun Siqueiros building, one of the most emblematic cultural urban heritages of Mexico was inaugurated as a space destined for artistic and cultural expression. David Alfaro Siqueiros, one of Mexico´s greatest artists, made his most famous mural around the façade of this historic building, making it a landmark of the city for its artistic and cultural value. Almost 50 years later, we have been entrusted with the challenge of designing a high-rise building on the site where the Polyforum Siqueiros building stands, while ensuring the preservation of the original structure as part of the new development. A project where history meets innovation to create excellence.

This article will discuss the design process of the Polyforum building from a structural engineering perspective. The 243-meter slender project consists of 43 stories above ground level and 9 basements, the first few levels of the structure respect and emphasize the uncommon geometry of the Polyforum Siqueiros historic building, to solve this, a steel structure maneuver had to be made, resulting in the concentration of most of the structural steel in the first levels of the building. Cutting edge structural design techniques, a detailed seismic risk analysis and a thorough wind tunnel study based on international standards were consider for this project, to ensure a proper behavior of the building because of its importance and heritage.

A journey through all the design phases of the project will be included, from the conceptual phase where the different design options were analyzed, the schematic design where the project started to take shape, the development design where optimizations were made, to the construction documents and BIM integration.

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