Edificio Calakmul

Vasco de Quiroga 3000, Santa Fe, Zedec Sta Fé, Álvaro Obregón, 01219 Ciudad de México, CDMX

Right in the middle of Mexico City’s financial district, Santa Fe, there’s an architectural wonder that has made the skyline in that part of the city all that more attractive since it was built in 1997. It’s called the Calakmul building, or Calakmul complex, and was designed by Mexican architect Agustín Hernández. It’s named after the city in the state of Campeche of the same name. Calakmul also means “Two Adjacent Mounds” in allusion to the topography of the jungle in that region. The design was an innovation in architecture at the time, with this peculiarly shaped building built-in glass and concrete that’s now affectionately called by locals “The Washing Machine”. Calakmul was in antiquity one of the most prominent Mayan cities along with Tikal and Palenque; Calakmul, the city, is known to have had a very particular urban design which also included big ceremonial plazas and residential buildings. It’s also the location where the greatest number of headstones have been found within Mayan territory.

The Calakmul building uses plenty of symbolism too, the circles represent the sky and the squares represent the earth, these symbols have been revered for a long time among many human civilizations. Over the years the building has won several awards due to its innovative designs, such as the first prize in the National Steel Contest, the first-ever IMEI national award given by the Mexican Institute of Smart Buildings, the first prize awarded by the Precast Concrete Institute, the best-illuminated building in the world awarded by the Lighting, Design & Application Center in Eindhoven, Netherlands and finally a silver medal in the Architecture Triennial held in Sofia, Bulgaria.

This crystal cube utilizes glass and the shapes of its design to create the illusion that it’s hollow, when in fact it’s packed with corporate offices, the separation presented by its outer walls only increases the illusion, but are actually designed to shield the building from the noise and the sun, while providing it with additional stability in case of an earthquake, and that’s a good thing because unfortunately, Mexico City is very prone to receiving earthquakes! The building’s security and telecommunications systems are 100% automated, which is why it’s called a “smart building”.

Santa Fe might not be one of the prime tourist destinations in the city, but since it’s the Financial District there’s always a lot of visitors coming into the area for business. If you happen to be one of these people, at least now you’ll know what exactly is that odd/beautiful building made of concrete and glass.


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