September 14, 2010

Cruz del Sur

September 14, 2010

Photographs of Cruz del Sur during the afternoon and evening March 2010

I recently borrowed MARK No25 magazine from a friend and was pleasantly surprised to find our very own Cruz del Sur building featured.  I reference it as our own, simply because we have watched from our dining room Cruz del Sur take shape from the earliest stages of construction.
Photographs of Cruz del Sur during construction phase 2008-2009

Izquierdo Lehmann Arquitectos played the dual role of architect and developer for this project located at a principal transportation hub for automobiles, subway, bus, and bicycle.  This building's trapezoidal form is pronounced amongst the other office and apartment buildings that surround it.  The result feels as if ILA was studying Cruz del Sur to push the limits of the largest possible floorplan placed upon the smallest possible core.  The limited core allowed ILA to provide continuity with the large setbacks that are typically found in this business district of Santiago.  

I was a bit disappointed with MARK's article on Cruz del Sur.  Over half of the two page spread is filled with a single picture of the building, and not all that great of one.  Also the text suggests that this building and its surrounding activity of automobile, subway, bus, and bicycle had never been visited by its author.  She writes that the Cruz del Sur building solves the problem of pedestrian space needed and therefore is a great model to help solve this problem in Santiago.  The article finishes by stating, "This is something that is quite often over looked by commercial property developers of standard office blocks."  I was caught of guard with this last sentence that exposes the authors lack of knowledge of Santiago which offers more sidewalk space and building setbacks than most large cities I have visited.  There is so much space folks that motorcycles drive on the sidewalks here.  This I do realize may not be the case throughout all of Santiago, but clearly the Cruz del Sur building is merely being consistent with its surrounding environment - providing a large setback (which may even be required by law in this area - I am not sure).  Here is a quick sketch study I did of a metro stop and office building nearby to Cruz del Sur.

Cruz del Sur features 18 floors (from 4 to 21) of column free office space, five floors of underground parking (600 spaces), and a two story commercial space (below street level). 

In reference to how the cantilevered trapezoidal office tower obtained its form, the architect is quoted in MARK, "It all started with the bad pedestrian flow in this area.  To give pedestrians more space, we searched for a tower using the smallest possible core."  On the ILA website it also states, "Given the high pedestrian density of the area, our first decision was to clear the ground level as much as possible, freeing up the site as an extension of the public space."
Both quotes refer to bad pedestrian flow as the source that drove their design of the trapezoid form to provide pedestrians with more sidewalk space.  This may be the case, but the pat on the back to ILA is for their creative design to maximize column free office space and create a much needed landmark building for this important transportation area.  The continuation of (already established) large setbacks in response to the high traffic foot area should just be part of our expectations of each other as architects.

The term "public space" is being used, however there is a clear division between sidewalk public space and building occupant shared space.  This was accomplished in three different ways.  A segue from level sidewalk to tapered steps, leading to a glass wall surrounding the entire building at street level, and finally a full two story drop down to the commercial area.

The clover leaf intersection is surly not to be taken lightly as it obviously could use another study of how it could function better.  But certainly the Cruz del Sur building did not solve its did however provide a landmark for this area and some excitement within the Las Condes skyline.

Photographs by Kelly J. Minner unless otherwise noted.

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