Compact, complete volumes, carefully connected, alternating facades through the forceful use of color and stone. The relationship with the landscape, captured in green patios and precious gardens. These are some of the elements Victor Legorreta has developed in his design career, following in the footsteps of his father Ricardo. A complex path that approaches a wide range of typologies, even inventing new ones, like the Otay Cross Border Xpress in San Diego, a building that spans one of the ‘hottest’ borders on the planet, joining Mexico and the United States in an architectural embrace.

Legorreta’s research in the field of collective architecture is presented here through three eloquent examples, which formulate spaces that stimulate encounters and shared experiences. Places of work and study, transit and departure are combined with opportunities to spend stationary time; pauses in which to observe the landscape from roof gardens, places to sit under the starts on a patio after a long day of study, ways to cross a border avoiding the barbed wire and the highway, strolling in a suspended violet tunnel.

The tower in Mexico City from 2016, designed together with the firm of Richard Rogers – an opportunity that led to the formation of the partnership LegoRogers – contains the headquarters of BBVA Bancomer. With its 50 stories, it combines the different forms of expertise and languages of the two design firms in an architectural synthesis that becomes a sort o contextualized landmark.

Located on Paseo de la Reforma, the tower forms a sort of new urban gate for Chapultepec Park, which it faces and echoes thanks to suspended gardens that appear at intervals of every nine floors in the continuous architectural facade. The front features violet sunscreens shielding an internal curtain wall from direct sunlight, adding color to the entire volume at the same time.

This solution optimizes energy performance, leading to LEED Gold certification. The facade pattern is paced by diagonal geometry based on the decorative traditions of Mexican architecture translated into a contemporary functional role.

Bright colors are also found in the curved orange volume that flanks the sky lobby on the 12th floor, in the ceilings and on the helical staircases of each raised garden placed in the large loggias that forcefully and harmoniously interrupt the vertical rise of the vibrant facings.

The sky lobby has been designed like a belvedere, to observe the city and the park; a space for flexible use, to contain exhibitions and public events, connecting the hall with three levels rising from the ground floor to the space of the restaurants created inside the upper level – the 12th – of the lower volume. A tower for offices that also contains public spaces, where small vertical gardens are added to workspaces to offering unusual green loggias open to the city.

The Otay Cross Border Xpress (CBX, 2016) is an airport terminal that connects the American territory from the city of San Diego (CA) directly to the airport of Tijuana in Mexico. A building that is a bridge in typological and symbolic terms, conceived to join rather than to separate, spanning the border with its grim barbed wire and the highway below, to insert a violet tunnel inside the airport.

The building has one level with two open wings, almost as if to embrace travelers, marked by a continuous front in red stone. This forms a base to support the continuous glazings set back from the facade and concluding in a thick white roof that extends in a central position to reach the vertical violet partition that forms the high portico of the entrance.

In the heart of Silicon Valley, between San Francisco and San Jose in California, the Legorreta studio, in 2016, also completed the Highland Hall dormitories for the students of the Graduate School of Business of Stanford University.

This is a complex of buildings no taller than four stories, carefully inserted on the existing campus. Subdivided into three sectors, the new buildings form a series of internal patios with plantings, in keeping with a geometric design of greenery that establishes an apt relationship with the compact lines of the architecture.

The design stands out for the simplicity of its language and the ochre color of the facades, featuring the regular rhythm of openings that correspond to rooms and access corridors, whose monumental volumetric development is entrusted to the large staircases descending to the patios.

The eastern facade of the complex is marked by an entrance tower in which the colors of Legorreta are applied in the empty vertical space, sculpted by a modular pattern of overlaid trusses from which a parallelepiped with regular perforations, in bright green, is suspended.

Photos Maria Dolores Robles Martínez Gomez, David Harrison, Hunter Kerhart, courtesy of Legorreta

Article Matteo Vercelloni

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BBVA Bancomer Tower. View of the tower for the headquarters in the context of Mexico City. The front with diagonal violet sunscreens is interrupted at intervals of nine stories by a loggia-garden from which to observe the city. Photos by Maria Dolores Robles Martínez Gomez.
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BBVA Bancomer Tower. One of the loggia-gardens with the brightly colored sculptural helical staircase. The same color, different for each episode, is repeated in the corresponding ceiling. Photos by Maria Dolores Robles Martínez Gomez.
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BBVA Bancomer Tower. View of the helicopter deck on the roof. Interior Design Legorreta/Skidmore Owings & Merrill (SOM), Landscape Design Espacios Verdes S.A. de C.V, Lighting Consultant Fisher Marantz Stone. The Italian company Luce & Light is one of the protagonists of the technical lighting design. Photos by Maria Dolores Robles Martínez Gomez.
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Otay Cross Border Xpress. Bird’s-eye view of the CBX air terminal of San Diego, which crosses the border between Mexico and the USA to directly connect to the airport of Tijuana. Photos by David Harrison
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Otay Cross Border Xpress. Entrance facade of the CBX complex with the high central portico. Associate and Executive Architect STANTEC Architecture, Lighting Consultant Visual Concepts, Landscape Architecture Stantec Consulting. Photos by David Harrison
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Otay Cross Border Xpress. View of an internal courtyard with reflecting pool in the CBX complex. Photos by David Harrison
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Otay Cross Border Xpress. View of the violet tunnel that spans the border between the two countries to reach the Tijuana airport building. Photos by David Harrison
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Highland Hall Residences Stanford University. View of the terrace on the fourth level, open to the dining hall. Photos by Hunter Kerhart
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Highland Hall Residences Stanford University. The Goldman Court of the residences at Stanford University. The ceramic flooring is a work by the artist Adán Paredes, “Textiles of Eternal Traces”. Photos by Hunter Kerhart
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Highland Hall Residences Stanford University. View of the interior of the entrance tower of the Highland Hall complex. Associate and Executive Architect Steinberg, Lighting Consultants JS Nolan + Associates Lighting Design LLC., Landscape Architecture Tom Leader Studio. Photos by Hunter Kerhart
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Highland Hall Residences Stanford University. View at dusk of the Kelly and George Davis Courtyard with the geometric garden of palms and native plants, and the monumental staircase leading to the various levels. Photos by Hunter Kerhart