The late 1950s was the start of modernism in terms of architecture and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was one of the iconic architects who played a huge role in defining it. His works like the Seagram building had already raised standards by impressing many with his modernist industrialized methods and one of the impressed audiences was the owner of the Bacardi group Mr. José M. Bosch.
Bacardi rum corporation commissioned Mies to design various projects of which the first office building designed in Santiago, Cuba was never built and the Bacardi Administrative Building office in Mexico (1957) was the second project that serves as a case study of corporate modern architecture to this day. This effort helped the Bacardi company reinvent its image at an international level.
Later Bacardi had issued a photographic publication of its new office building claiming that the design followed its philosophy of offices with no partitions and maximum connectivity between employees. This advancement in the architectural language of capitalism through Mies van der Rohe simultaneously supported an increase in the development of buildings that reflect new and innovative architectural features.
The Bacardi office in Mexico was opened in 1962. The structure reflects the architect’s signature concept of “Less is More”. It follows the design principles of having an open floor plan and fluid space that consists of geometric form and grid planning keeping in mind the visual connectivity of the interior and exterior spaces. The location of the project is in Tultitlan on Mariano Escobedo, a city in the State of Mexico.
The structure was constructed parallel to the highway that interfaces Mexico City with the city of Queretaro, isolated by an enormous garden. The architect has wonderfully managed to design the space in a way where the structural elements complement the site context by merging with them.
Concept | Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
The concept of the building is to design a highly flexible open space with strict and rigorous geometrical forms. The main principle used is to follow a double-heighted centralized space within the volume of the whole structure. The low-rise structure consists of two large rectangular floors, 52 meters long and 27 meters wide, that rely on a high and free monolithic platform. To achieve a sense of openness Mies van der Rohe has designed a space that visually spreads outwards. Various features like permeability and versatility are used to differentiate between the building edges and the openness of the site surroundings.
The access is through two staircases at the center of the plan that leads to the main floor. The walls create a double-height lobby. Outside the building are two descending utility shafts that flank the lobby. This lobby only receives light through its sidewalls and is supported vertically.
Inside, on the first floor, the two flights of stairs border an opening to the ground floor lobby. This double-height opening is surrounded by a gallery. The mobile panels separate zones of the meeting/ conference rooms and office workspaces of high-ranking employees. Bathrooms are enclosed at the far ends of the upper floor by the panelled walls. The overall design provides unrestricted views and circulation.
The superstructure is made from reinforced white concrete whose deck is supported by modulations at every 9 meters. The structural profile of the columns is double-T steel. The secondary structure does not overlap at the perimeter of the walls; there is a slight expansion of the porches.
As for the modular facade, Mies van der Rohe used the substructure of profiles in the same geometry where every module of the vertical proportions was divided into five panels. The columns on the longer sides of the structure pass digressing to the line of closure whereas the other sides consist of two overhangs of 3.50 meters on each side. The internal columns pass marginally to the edges twice, similar to the facade design.
The basic construction materials used by Mies van der Rohe follow his language of work; steel, glass, and travertine. The interior spaces are divided by wooden panels. Large glass fronts are supported on steel frames as the facade. And the metal is painted black.
Landscape | Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
Landscape plays an important role, therefore, the grounds of this project were tended by eighteen full-time gardeners as the company emphasized on building’s green environment that included more than 30000 tulips and dahlias encouraging the Mexican landscape. Mies van der Rohe’s open-spanned architecture spaces demonstrate the versatile use of space that was capable of accommodating any program with varying functions.
WikiArquitectura. (n.d.). Bacardi offices in Mexico City – Data, Photos & Plans. [online] Available at: https://en.wikiarquitectura.com/building/bacardi-offices-in-mexico-city/ [Accessed 23 May 2021].
O’Rourke, K.E. (2012). Mies and Bacardi. Journal of Architectural Education, 66(1), pp.57–71. Available at: Mies and Bacardi (tandfonline.com) [Accessed 23 May 2021].