First erected in 1971, the world’s largest mural is set to undergo restoration to repair damage created by years of exposure to the elements and open up the public space to better enhance the mural’s display.
The Polyforum Cultural Siqueiros is an outstanding example of extraordinary artistry crafted by Mexican muralist, David Alfaro Siqueiros, together with Diego Rivera and Jose Clemente Orozco. The building was constructed in 1971, taking the shape of a diamond and housing The March of Humanity, what is recognised as the world's largest mural. It blankets both the interior and exterior surfaces, covering a total of 8000 square meters.
In 1981, the Polyforum was declared a monument of Mexico’s National Patrimony. Nearly four decades later, the sparkling diamond does not shine as bright as it once did. Today, there are many problems concerning the Polyforum. The mural's fragile materials and paints have become victim to the elements and air contamination, requiring constant attention and restoration to promote and preserve the structure's condition. However, being a private museum, the Polyforum receives no government support and requires constant expenditure for its crucial maintenance and restoration. The museum simply does not have the adequate funds to support its mission: to preserve and promote the unique, extraordinary work of David Siqueiros.
In response to these problems, the owners of the Polyforum proposed to create an integral project which would guarantee the maintenance, conservation, and promotion of the murals. On the north side of the building, a slender tower will rise, designed to be a backdrop to embrace, enhance, and preserve the beauty of the Polyforum.
The project begins with ridding the area of its existing parking sites to generate an inviting public space, ideal for viewing the Polyforum's exterior. The tower's footprint will only occupy 15 percent of the entire site, and on the lower floors, the public space extends into the building as areas designed for sitting and resting. Here, visitors can enjoy views of the north side of the forum, a viewpoint which is currently hidden.
As the tower rises above the height of the Polyforum, it will double in width, resulting in a slight cantilever covered in glass positioned right over the Polyforum. The inclined form along with the reflective properties of glass will reflect the murals of the roof onto the street and plaza to be noticed and admired by visitors and pedestrians. The cantilever culminates with a sky lobby featuring an open, public terrace, which again, creates a viewpoint for observing the Siqueiros' stunning murals.
The remaining, upper floors of the tower will house commercial establishments, offices, apartments, and hotel. Portions of tenants’ rent will contribute directly to the Administrative Trust for the preservation of the Polyforum.
The architects were careful to design a discreet building which would not take away from the beauty or importance of the existing forum. The resulting project was carefully designed to combat the Polyforum’s current difficulties without changing, moving, touching, or affecting the landmark or its precious masterpiece.
Images Courtesy of BKNR