soumaya museum by fernando romero architects soumaya museum by fernando romero architects
oct 08, 2010

soumaya museum by fernando romero architects

photo by adam wiseman

last month designboom got in touch with fernando romero architects who have sent us now images of their most recent project, the soumaya museum. the large-scale, mixed-use building is currently being constructed in polanco, mexico city. it will be the second museum opened by carlos slim, a mexican business magnate; it is named after his late wife and will house slim’s collection of artwork by auguste rodin, considered the biggest outside france. photo by ana paula herrera

photo by adam wiseman

following text from fernando romero architects

the soumaya museum is located on a former industrial zone dating from the 1940’s which today presents a very high commercial potential. the soumaya museum plays a key role in the reconversion of the area: as a preeminent cultural program, it acts as an initiator in the transformation of the urban perception. moreover, its institutional status activates the public space with functionalities other than commercial and grants the new neighborhood the urban intensity it required.

in order to create a new identity for the site, the building needed to acquire a strong urban presence. thus, the soumaya museum was conceived as a sculptural building that is both unique and contemporary. its avant-garde morphology and typology define a new paradigm in the history of mexican and international architecture.

from the outside, the building is an organic and asymmetrical shape that is perceived differently by each visitor, while reflecting the diversity of the collection on the inside. indeed, the work to be exposed contains amongst others the second biggest collection of rodin sculptures in the world, several authors of medieval and renaissance art, as well as impressionist painters.

this heterogeneous collection is housed in a continuous exhibition space spread over six levels, representing approximately 6,000 m². the building also includes an auditorium for 350 people, library, offices, a restaurant, a gift shop and a multi-purpose gathering lounge.

the shell of the building is constructed with 28 steel curved columns of different diameters, each with its own geometry and shape, offering the visitor a soft non-linear circulation all through the building. located at each floor level, seven ring beams provide a system that braces the structure and guarantees its stability. the top floor is the most generous space of the museum; its roof is suspended from an impressive cantilever that allows natural daylight to flow in freely. in contrast, the building’s envelope is nearly opaque, offering little and scarce openings to the outside. this gesture can be interpreted as an intention to create a protected shelter for the art collection. the façade is made of hexagonal aluminum modules that optimize the preservation and durability of the entire building.


render by juan pedro lopez

render by juan pedro lopez

render by juan pedro lopez

credit: gehry technologies

credit: gehry technologies

credit: gehry technologies

programmatic distribution diagram

structural diagram

circulation diagram

air-conditioning diagram

project credits architect: lar / fernando romero and mauricio ceballos client: grupo carso / museo soumaya estimated completion date: 2010 location: lake zurich , expansion col. granada, del. miguel hidalgo. mexico city, total area: 17.000 m2 breakdown:  exhibition halls (6000 m2), auditorium (350 seats), leisure (150 children), library (3000 books), shops, restaurants and cafeteria (140 seats), main hall (mixed-use space for 600 people ), storage (2500m2), general service areas, offices (50 employees), staff area and parking (460 vehicles). façade: gehry technologies engineer concept: arup los angeles project regency: inpros civil constructor: pc constructores

architecture team ana medina, herminio gonzalez, omar gerala félix, sergio rebelo, ana paula herrera, mario mora, juan pedro lópez, guillermo mena, libia castilla, raúl garcía, manuel díaz, alan aurioles, ana gabriela alcocer, luis ricardo garcía, ivan ortiz, tiago pinto, laura dominguez, juan andres lopez, olga gomez, hugo fernandez, jason sidelko, eddy slim, nicola, davolio, lee warren, alexander pena, jacqueline hernandez, kosuke osawa, francisco javier de la vega, david hernandez,  jorge hernandez, joaquín collado, mariana tafoya, eduardo benítez, pedro lechuga, thorsten englert, luís fuentes, luís flores, rodolfo rueda, víctor chávez, max betancourt, wonne icks, dolores robles-martínez, sappho van laer, ophelie chassin, elena haller, abril tobar, diego eumir jasso, albert beele, homero yánez, cynthia meléndez, hugo vela, susana hernández, gerardo galicia, alberto duran, camilo mendoza, dafne zvi zaldívar, cecilia jiménez, ángel ortiz, raúl antonio hernández, alma delfina rosas, wendy guillen, raúl flores, daniel alejandro farías, jesús monroy, saúl miguel kelly, iván javier avilés, cesar pérez.

engineers structure: colinas de buen steel producer: swecomex mep: dypro hydraulic, sanitary installation and fire protection: garza maldonado y asociados electric installation: hubard bourlon security / IT & A/V: sitcom

consultants museographer: museo soumaya / alfonso miranda interior & landscape: mier y teran and inside outside / petra blaisse lighting: lighteam & arquitectura de la luz vertical transport: kone & arsenio rodríguez consulting kitchen: sanborns auditorium: teletec environmental graphics: museistica / adriana miranda acoustic: saad acústica

  • beautiful

    alev says:
  • incredible – straight out of the computer – TRON! Love it.

    Dr. Design says:
  • Just today we also talked with him. His projects are amazing!!

    Arquitectitis says:
  • Beautiful and inspiring!

    A says:
  • Brilliant!

    tremaine harris says:
  • A very beautiful concept. The organic structure will hopefully has some mystery to Mexico city’s business district.

    Shayne says:
  • Have you ever wondered how a bad architect can build things? well just merry the right woman ( Carlos Slim richest man on earth daugther) and he will do the rest….. money talks. And if you dont have any talent.. dont worry hire students, take their ideas for a month and then take them out of the office without payment!!!… is a good way of making fame without talent.

    mexican arquitecto says:
  • interesting to see that the young and easily impressed, like this project; and the people that actually visited or live in mexico city are very critical of this project…
    my commment out of a myrad of critical comments for this project-
    thank you for destroying the urban faabric and propagating social strata homogenization! you sure know how to capture a social phenomenon!

    as says:
  • two comments up… have you worked for him before??

    critic says:
  • It´s horrible!!!! Another fan of Zaha Hadid… It´s the worst museum of the world. The Blob Museum Aggggh

    Mies says:
  • I live in mexico city and its true and very sad, this building its another example of how a bad design could be constructed only whit the rigth conections, if your father in law, its the richest man on heart, you must be a great architect.

    arq1 says:
  • Sad to see many people commenting on the relationship of architect with client, i think every architect has a clients base he/she depend on to build and prosper, LAR is no different … and in fact LAR is very intelligent in using this relationship to empower and explore architecture instead of building the typical low cost … people should focus more on what this project brought to Mexico, from knowledge and experience, being on the team I saw how every piece of the unprecedented architectural exploration in Mexico has been done by Mexicans who struggled and worked hard but definitely stepped up to the challenge and made this a reality … every Mexican should be proud that this was almost all made in Mexico … and for you jealous people go get a life .. !!

    Eddy.Sl says:
    The Museo Soumaya covers a wide range of time from the XII century to the XX – hosting almost 1.600 pieces.
    and the building reflects this diversity by offering a variety of plants which each one is unique in size and shape!
    It has natural light filtered through a dome, which aims to reduce energy expenditure.

    KIM says:
  • Minor point but how will the exterior be safely cleaned/maintained??

    PJ says:
  • Good point PJ, not a minor one, applies as well to the preponderance of new centerpiece buildings in China. How did the arbitrary form derive from the program or the site? Does function follow form or form follow function? Do museums require to blow your mind and draw attention to themselves, or to display the art or artifact in a simpatico manor? Wrights Guggenheim started all this. Great form, but is it serving the art or the architect’s and the client’s egos

    mArkW says:

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