tower and scandal
a couple of months ago, oma unleashed the torre bicentenario project on their website. in mexico city, word about the proposal was out before, and a major political scandal was in the making. intended as an urban benchmark for the celebrations of the country's independence 200th aniversary in 2010, the construction of the tower has stirred a bitter political debate and revealed the exasperating state of development affairs and the dispiriting urban aptitude of local actors and decision-makers. once again, formal or professional criteria have been left out of the discussion, and the whole thing has turned into a big local political pissing contest.
driving down the flawless section of paseo de la reforma that crosses las lomas (formerly known as chapultepec heights, and commonly reffered to as "el beverly hills mexicano"), something seems off. not drivers and thugs washing their bosses' hummers or sportscars, not the uniformed maids scooping-up dog poo from the perfect lawns on the median strips, not even the total absence of any means of public transportation...
what seems strange this time around is the "civic resistance" movement that announced on posters and plaques on the massive walls of most of the mansions in the area, with bold statements like:
RESPETO A NUESTRAS COLONIAS...¡NO A LA MEGATORRE! (respect our "colonies" -that's what we call neighborhoods in mexico- ... no to the mega-tower!)
the rich have reacted. they are afraid the tower will take a chunk from chapultepec park (just like they did to develop their own lots forty years back) and generate congestion (just like they do with their high-end schools and shopping malls and restaurants and valet parking stops) in the area. they don't want a skyscraper blocking sunlight from their 500m2 backyards. they don't want all those yucky middle-class corporate types with their cheap suits and tsurus adding to the already hectic everyday life threatening their fenced (more precisely, fortified) privileged havens. and they have their delgada (the city is divided in administrative districts called delegaciones, headed by an elected delegate, a sort of submayor) on their side. funny: miguel hidalgo, the delegación where the tower is to be located, is not only the richest district in the city, but also the only one headed by the right-wing pan, the main rivals of the city's left-wing government led by marcelo ebrard and the prd (the president of mexico is from the pan, after beating the prd in a sketchy and still-contested election).
the promoters of the tower, on the other hand, have the full backing of the city government. funny: a huge, private development, with a whole lot of juicy personal interests involved. this is the "left-wing" urban politics we've grown accostumed to in the past years. the government of the poor and needy is also the government of the privatization and gentrification of downtown, of huge investments in transportation infrastructure catering to automobiles (when 70% of the city relies on limited and sometimes shitty public transport), of stinky agreements with big business. funny: the "independence" tower is half financed by spanish boss amancio ortega of inditex (the zara mogul). funny: the other half is provided by grupo danhos, one of the largest real-estate developers in the country. the city government has been kind to the group, that has built 4 huge shopping centers in the last couple of years, and the gigantic reforma 222 mixed-use development, currently ongoing construction.
the old pri (70-year single-party rule in the country people) has gotten in on the game: "we believe this is a patriotic pretext to cover up a big business deal, and therefore there is no way we can accept it" said the party senate leader maría de los ángeles moreno (i guess she means they only accept it when it came from within the pri).
i wonder what koolhaas thinks. or if it's important.