Architect: BNKR Arquitectura
Location: Mexico City, Mexico
Design Team: Esteban Suarez and Sebastian Suarez
Project Leader: Adrian Aguilar
Project Team: Adrian Aguilar & Diego Jasso
Collaborators: Julio Amezcua & Erik Ramírez
Carpentry: La Invencible / Alejandro Tapia
Completion: November 2011
Photography: Jaime Navarro
The Polyforum Cultural Siqueiros is the masterpiece of David Alfaro Siqueiros, one of the three great Mexican muralists, together with Diego Rivera and Jose Clemente Orozco. It is a cultural, social and political facility that houses the mural “The March of Humanity”, in its Universal Forum. A building conceived as a giant diamond, it is completely covered in mural painting inside and out, and is considered the largest in the world, with more than 8,000 square meters of mural painting.
The building and galleries were conceived by the architects Joaquín Alvarez Ordóñez, Guillermo Rossel de la Lama and Ramón Mikelajáuregui, together with Siqueiros in 1967. The Polyforum, a private institution with very limited resources, obtained sponsorship from a major Mexican paint manufacturer to remodel its circular galleries on the ground floor. These had not been renovated since its inauguration in 1971.
Our intervention was reduced to removing elements from the galleries rather than a proper design project. We got rid of the original dark blue industrial carpet that covered the floor and stairs and replaced it with a white glossy epoxy finish. The coarse granular texture of the walls was substituted for a smooth white finish. The dropped ceiling concentric rings were removed and only two of the structural rings were left. The original wooden false ceiling, bench and staircases were sanded and varnished. The clear glass dividing the interior from the exterior was covered with a translucent matte coating in order to contain the gallery space and make the visitor focus on the exhibitions. Previous to these modifications, the exterior was too much of a distraction on the interior panorama.
The only “design piece” we created is the elliptical reception desk which accentuates the dynamic space of the circular galleries and invites the visitor to proceed towards the exhibition areas. Its vibrant red glossy finish, is meant to contrast with the rather mellow and tranquil space, and is also a tribute to Siqueiros´s aggressive and energetic brush strokes that characterize his art.