Taller | Mauricio Rocha’s expansion of the Anahuacalli Museum in Mexico has been named the recipient of the 2023 Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize (MCHAP). The project, which expands an existing Mexico City museum designed by artist Diego Rivera and Juan O’ Gorman in the 1940s, bested a strong roster of finalists: Guadalupe Market Colectivo by C733 in Tapachula, Mexico; the Menil Drawing Institute by Johnston Marklee in Houston; Park in the Prado by the Mayor’s Office Secretary of Infrastructure in Medellín, Colombia; The Polygon Gallery by Patkau Architects in North Vancouver, Canada; and Valois Housing Building by José Cubilla in Asuncion, Paraguay.
The biennial MCHAP prize recognizes “built work in the Americas that best embodies architectural excellence.” It is awarded by the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) College of Architecture and announced at a benefit held in Crown Hall, the Ludwig Mies van der Rohe–designed building on the IIT campus that houses the MCHAP’s administrative operations.
Over 300 projects were nominated for this iteration’s award competition. To be considered, a project had to be located within the Americas and completed between December 2018 and June 2021. Submissions were whittled down to the six finalists, announced at an event held in February. The jury then visited each of the six projects and met with the designers and clients before selecting the Anahuacalli Museum.
The jury for the 2023 MCHAP included Sandra Barclay, the 2018 Americas Prize recipient; Mónica Bertolino; Dirk Denison; Alejandro Echeverri; Julie Eizenberg; and Philip Kafka.
As this year’s recipient, architect Mauricio Rocha will receive $50,000 to use for research and development on a publication in addition to the title of MCHAP Chair of Architecture at IIT.
The Anahuacalli Museum was praised by the jury for its connection with its surroundings, a lava field formed from the eruption of the Xitle volcano. Rivera envisioned the site as an arts center with space for workshops, performance, and a place to exhibit his pre-Columbian artifacts. The forms of the buildings take cues from the forms found in Aztec or Zapotec structures. They are organized around a central plaza, a plan that Rocha replicated in the expansion of the site.
In the September 2022 issue of The Architect’s Newspaper, Rocha told AN that a challenge of redesigning the site was harmonizing the new structures with the existing buildings and the landscape of the lava fields to conceive a design in line with those of Rivera, O’Gorman, and Luis Barragán.
“Mauricio Rocha proposes a typology of independent and permeable volumes, giving continuity to the floor of the existing plaza and, in turn, the rough and irregular topography of the natural lava flow,” jury chair Sandra Barclay said in a press release.
“The way the museum extension mingles with the landscape speaks volumes about where architecture is headed, and the way it honors the past is fearless, heartfelt, and original,” jury member Julie Eizenberg noted.
Other awards given out at the ceremony on March 23, 2023, honored Lynn Osmond, CEO of Choose Chicago, and Sharon Prince, founder of Design for Freedom and CEO and founder of the Grace Farms Foundation, for their contributions to “architectural excellence.”
Notable past recipients of the MCHAP include Barclay & Crousse Archiecture’s Edificio E at the Universidad de Piura in Peru in 2018 and, in 2014, Grace Farms by SANAA in New Cannan, Connecticut.