Last week I traveled to Monterrey, Mexico, to speak at DesignWeek Monterrey, an annual conference hosted by CEDIM (Cento de Estudios Superiores de Diseño de Monterrey), one of the country's premier undergraduate design schools.
The event was incredibly impressive—four days chock-full of lectures by a diverse group of international visitors, student and professional fashion shows, design and business workshops, and of course, parties. It had all the scale and ambition of any design week I've attended, but what made it truly exceptional is that the entire event is intended for student enrichment. CEDIM classes are canceled for the week and 1100+ students compose the audience for an outstanding series of events.
I plan to write a bit more about the content of the week in a subsequent post, but first, a short post about the venue for DesignWeek, Parque Fundidora. The former industrial park is the site of Mexico's first steel plant, constructed at the turn of the 20th century. The plant, and the growth of the steel industry in general, made Monterrey a key economic and industrial hub of Mexico. The factory was closed down in 1986, and after some years of neglect, was restored by Grimshaw Architects into the Museo Del Acero, Horno Alto 3, which opened in 2007. One side of the building contains an historical museum that chronicles the birth, growth, and struggles of the Mexican metals industry, while on the other side a science and technology museum offers an interactive education in the process of extracting, smelting, and refining steel.
The park and the museum are a stunning example of adaptive reuse. The smelters, chimneys, and structural components have been restored and preserved so beautifully that it's hard to see the hand of a contemporary architect on the building, yet the sharp, clean appearance of the building today makes it clear that it's not simply a relic of faded industry. The industrial park has become a thriving cultural and community center and it made a perfect facility for DesignWeek.
There's a beautiful series of photos here, at the website of photographer Paul Rivera.