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Reinventing a Storied Thoroughfare in Mexico City

A team of designers will convert one Mexico City's most dangerous highways into an urban oasis.
September 10, 2015, 11am PDT | Emily Calhoun
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Ulisesmorales via Wikimedia Commons

Centuries ago, Avenida Chapultepec was a canal dividing indigenous groups in the Aztec empire. Today, with only remnants of an abandoned aqueduct and Mexico City's oldest fountain, the wide avenue passes through the trendy neighborhoods of Roma and La Condesa, heading east from Chapultepec Park to the colonial and commercial center of the city.

With one of the highest traffic accident rates for pedestrians, cyclists, and automobile drivers, the 10-lane highway is ripe for renovation. The city has hired a team of designers, led by Fernando Romero of FR-EE, to overhaul the busy street into a multi-level, green oasis for the city of 20 million. Romero's design for the thoroughfare draws inspiration from the history of water as a fundamental presence in the space. “We thought it would be nice to create a geometry based on the fluidity of water, creating a pedestrian connection among the city's various cultural contexts in the most efficient and seamless way,” says Romero.

Heading west, the avenue will include a gradual inclination to a pedestrian-only elevated path with retail shops and an outdoor amphitheater. Along with troughs of water, and dedicated bike and bus lanes, the team plans to drastically increase the share of the avenue for pedestrians and double the number of trees. "The new avenue is designed to create a sense of discovery, pulling people through to enjoy the safe passage to the views, trees, and public spaces," writes Jared Green.

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Published on Thursday, August 27, 2015 in ASLA's The Dirt blog
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