Monument of Love: Museo Soumaya in Mexico CityAuthor:John Ellis
In Agra, India, right around 1650, the Taj Majal was built to honor one man’s eternal love for a woman. In 2011, another man is building a monument to love for his wife. In this case the man is Carlos Slim (thought to be the richest man in the world), who is using his vast fortune to erect the Museo Soumaya, bearing his wife’s first name. On a recent visit to Mexico City, I was blown away when I ran across this ‘beacon of love’ under construction right in the heart of an industrial section of the Polanco district.
Slim hired the hip Mexican-born architect Fernando Romero (who previously work for starchitects Jean Nouvel and Rem Koolhaus) to create something unique and contemporary. From the outside, the amorphous, deformed-rhomboid shape almost looks like an upside down boot. The skin is comprised of hexagonal aluminium modules, giving the building a science fiction kind of feel. In fact, the building feels less like it’s rooted to the ground, and more like it’s just touching down for a visit.
The museum will house the second largest private collection of Rodin sculptures in the world. A Sandia (watermelon) sculpture by ‘free thinker’ Rufino Tomayo will greet visitors in the lobby as well as the iconic Rodin sculpture, The Thinker. The collection of more than 60,000 pieces range from the classic European to Mexican contemporary. When the Museum opens (indefinite date, but sometime in the Spring of 2011) rumor has it that there will be no charge for admission.
Inside, one of the most impressive spaces is the below-ground auditorium, tucked under the entrance level. There will be a much-touted social gathering space which will probably be just your ordinary lobby. Perhaps most dramatic will be the top floor, which is the largest space in the museum, natural lighting created by the cantilevered roofline. The façade of the building is made from translucent concrete—a very airy yet solid material that allows light
The Museum is a vital part of the redevelopment of this area of Northern Mexico City and is central to Plaza Carso a redevelopment project which comprises several blocks of commercial, residential and cultural buildings.
This new architectural feat will definitely bring a renewed focus to Mexico City from art and architecture lovers around the world, and perhaps will revitalize this section of Mexico City, much like the Guggenheim did for Bilbao.
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