Artz Pedregal shopping mall
Artz Pedrigal is a new mixed-use retail and office development in the Pedregal de San Ángel area of southwestern Mexico City. Incorporating around 400,000 square metres of floor space, the center was designed by Sordo Madaleno Arquitectos and opened in March 2018.
Tenants include luxury retailers Louis Vuitton, Dior, Hermes, Gucci, Prada, Fendi, and Cartier. The development includes permanent public sculptural works by artists Ai Weiwei, Daniel Buren, and Tania Candiani.
The center is laid out in a horseshoe plan that seeks to create a feeling of separation from the city, using vegetation, green roofs, walkways and pools to give the sense of a sheltered public park. The shopping mall area acts as a plinth for four office towers that demarcate the site, three on the north-east side, one on the south-west. The centre is constructed on volcanic rock, and the architects have sought to allude to the geological characteristics of the terrain, giving a tectonic heft to the geometries of the multiple overlapping buildings comprising the development.
Mature trees that marked the original perimeter of the site have been retained to improve noise isolation. A partially sunken road tunnel diverts some of the traffic from the nearby expressway underground, freeing ground level for pedestrian access. There are six floors of underground parking beneath the whole development.
On July 12 2018, a large cantilevered section of the building collapsed just minutes after the center was evacuated. It was reported that a supporting beam failed, a separation between the overhang and the rest of the building having been noticed earlier that day. No one was injured in the collapse—a section of the Anillo Periférico expressway adjacent to the building had been closed earlier the same day. Spectacular video footage captured by evacuated workers shows masonry, dust and shattered glass raining down as the cantilevered section shears off.
The development had suffered earlier issues with subsidence, a problem notorious with Mexico City’s poor subsoil conditions. In 2016, a retaining wall of the nearby expressway collapsed due to subsoil shifting during foundation work on the shopping mall. It was unclear whether structural defects or soil settling was to blame for the July 2018 collapse. Fausto Lugo, Mexico City's head of civil protection claimed that the cause was structural, but that further investigation would be necessary to determine whether the problem was one of design, construction or materials. Oscar Kaufmann, a spokesman for the architects Sordo Madaleno, said in a statement: "We’re working with local protection and safety authorities to determine the causes."
The construction of the mall has been unpopular locally due to fears it will increase traffic congestion on the already notoriously overcrowded Periférico expressway; it has also been constructed in an area that serves as an important catchment area regulating the city's heavy seasonal rainfall.
Mexico City has strict building safety standards put in place after the 1985 earthquake that toppled hundreds of buildings. Nevertheless, concerns remain over construction codes and practices after the Puebla earthquake in September of 2017 caused 228 deaths and the collapse of more than 40 buildings in the city. Developers seeking quick returns have been known to build poor quality constructions on less than stable land.
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