University Strengthens Commitment to Mexico with New Office in Mexico City
In November, Dr. Michelle Addington made her first international trip as dean of the School of Architecture, accompanying UT Austin President Greg Fenves and other senior administrators in a delegation to Mexico City and Monterrey. The purpose of the visit was to dedicate a new UT office in Mexico City at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). With new staff on the ground in Mexico, UT plans to expand collaborations with Mexican educational and scientific organizations.
The office at UNAM will house The University of Texas at Austin — Mexico Institute, a Mexican nonprofit organization established in May 2017 to promote UT’s scholarly research inside and outside the country. Directed by UT faculty member Jorge Piñon, the institute’s staff will work with researchers in Mexico and Texas to pursue research projects, scholarly partnerships, and cultural studies.
“Mexican students, researchers, and institutions are vital as The University of Texas addresses important issues that affect both Mexico and Texas,” President Fenves remarked in a press release from UT News. “For decades, UT has worked closely with Mexican scholars, as well as with public and private sector stakeholders on educational programs and research. By opening this office, the university plans to become an even closer partner with Mexico, building on existing relationships and developing new ones to expand opportunities in education and research.”
The office presents many new opportunities for the School of Architecture, one of the world’s premier centers for scholarship and research on Latin American architecture and urbanism. With a history of inquiry and exchange with Mexican institutions, architects, and students going back to the 1930s, UTSOA has deep ties and a long tradition of scholarship in Mexico. Having a presence in Mexico will help advance the school’s influence and expertise in a country with vibrant and rich architectural traditions that span from pre-Hispanic times to present day.
“The opening of this office is not only instrumental for facilitating cross-border interchange, but it serves to affirm the pivotal role and prominent place of UTSOA as the center of built-environment research and education throughout the Americas,” stated Dean Addington. “We look forward to convening, expanding, and leading the discourse addressing the potential impact our greater collaboration will have on our partner countries.”
While in Mexico City, Dean Addington visited several acclaimed architects, including José Castillo and Tatiana Bilbao, who will lecture at UTSOA in Spring 2018. The meeting with Bilbao resulted from the formation of a studio series to be taught at Columbia, Yale, UT Austin, and other universities, which will examine the relationship between the U.S. and Mexico. As part of the series “Two sides of the border,” UT’s studio will be led by Professor Juan Miró in Spring 2018. The latest iteration of UTSOA’s longstanding Studio Mexico program, Miró’s studio will focus on the city of Monterrey and partner with students and faculty members from the Facultad de Arte, Arquitectura y Diseño at the Universidad de Monterrey. Dean Addington also met with Carlos Zedillo, Infonovit’s Director of Sustainability with a particular focus on sustainable low-income housing, to discuss coordinated initiatives between Mexican and U.S. architects and institutions on social housing.
The Mexico delegation trip also included alumni outreach social functions in Mexico City and Monterrey. Part of the Texas Edge series, these events welcomed hundreds of alumni living or working in Mexico and featured panels of UT faculty members examining topics in energy and sustainability. The Mexico City event was hosted by U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Roberta Jacobson. In Monterrey, Juan Miró joined Michael Webber, professor of mechanical engineering and deputy director of UT’s Energy Institute, in a conversation moderated by Carlos Ross, director of UT’s Center for Global Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Hosted by UT Austin friends and volunteers Clara and Carlos Quintanilla, the Monterrey Texas Edge event was a thought-provoking discussion on Texas and Mexico’s shared interest in sustainability, water, and energy in the near and distant future.
On the last day of the trip, Dean Addington and development director Luke Dunlap toured the city and met faculty members from the Centro Roberto Garza Sada de Arte, Arquitectura y Diseño at the Universidad de Monterrey, housed in an impressive building designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando and built in 2013.