Elevating occupant and visitor experience in the “heart” of Mexican art and culture
Client U.S. Department of State Bureau of Overseas Building Operations (OBO)
Size 8.5-acre site
Guadalajara is the vibrant capitol of Jalisco, widely considered the “heart” of Mexican art and culture. Mexico’s second largest city, Guadalajara sits on a plateau 1,500 meters above sea level and is bounded by the Primavera Forrest to the west, and the dramatic 600-meter-deep Oblatos Canyon to the northeast.
The new U.S. Consulate Compound will be built on an 8.5-acre site in the upscale Monraz neighborhood along Guadalajara’s western border with the city of Zapopan. The multi-building campus includes a new 12,000-square-meter office building, entry pavilions, support and utility buildings, recreational areas and two 150-vehicle underground parking garages.
The climate of Guadalajara is very mild and conducive to exterior living as long as shade from the sun and protection from the rain are provided. In response to these climate drivers, the building is covered by the design team’s interpretation of the vernacular “palapa” shading device which not only shades the building’s façade and secure outdoor areas, but also provides the building a unifying civic gesture befitting its use. In addition, the design of the site includes plans to save a large mature grove of trees adjacent to the compound perimeter, providing an immediate benefit for employees and visitors with shade, colorful vegetation and habitat for wildlife.
Given the large number of daily consular visitors (an average of 1,800 per day now, expected to reach 2,400 per day in the coming decade), the layout of the consular department became one of the key drivers to the design of the building and site. The design team worked closely with the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs to define a new paradigm for consular service: a second-floor consular department. Cantilevered out from the floors above and below, the glass-clad volume of the consular department provides a clear wayfinding element for visitors coming to the building for the first time. Accessed by escalators and elevators, the department occupies the building’s entire second level and provides visitors with views out to the tree canopy and the city beyond. The design provides the department with three times the number of service windows than the present consulate, improving service time dramatically.
The third floor of the building contains the building’s social center, including dining, service, and gathering spaces and a large outdoor terrace for the use of building staff. Office floor plates are intentionally thin, and building glazing is concentrated on open workstation zones, providing occupants access to daylight and expansive views.
Occupants are encouraged to take the stairs instead of the elevators in both the consulate office building and the staff and visitor parking garages. The main central stair in the office building is hung from the structure above and is located such that it provides an attractive and dynamic alternative to elevator use. In the parking garages, open stairs draw visitors and staff with natural light and ventilation as clear wayfinding elements.
The project is designed to exceed the stringent Federal Performance Goals for energy efficiency and renewable energy, reducing energy consumption by 36 percent while providing 15 percent of the new office building’s energy consumption with solar photovoltaics. In addition to a reduction in energy consumption, the compound includes a wastewater treatment plant that will treat all of the facility’s wastewater and, as a byproduct, will provide 100 percent of the compound’s irrigation water demand. Rainwater will be captured in several underground tanks and then recirculated through the compound’s four water features, such that no potable water will be required to serve them throughout the year.