Apartment towers dominate the portfolio of Archetonic, but it was a single-family house that caught the eye of the firm’s founder, Jacobo Micha, when he was looking for a new home base for his staff of 28, including his son and daughter. Located on a corner lot in a sought-after Mexico City neighborhood of mansions and office buildings, the landmarked structure, built in the 1950’s, represented a challenge few others were willing to tackle because of preservation mandates. “We saw the potential, immediately envisioning it as our headquarters,” Micha says.
Assisted by his son Jaime Micha, also an architect, the elder Micha set to work on a renovation and expansion that would yield a four-story, 6,500-square-foot office. Because of the landmark status, some elements had to be preserved. Window openings on the original two stories, for example, couldn’t be changed, however the Michas gave the facade a contemporary concrete finish. They also wrapped several volumes in gray-painted sheet steel. Panels in the same metal extend to serve as canopies.
“Contrasts distinguish the old elements from the new ones,” Micha explains. On top, he added two levels in glass and steel, plus a roof garden with an outdoor kitchen and tables for lunch breaks. Inside, similarly contrasting materials dictate the aesthetic. The entry’s epoxy floor establishes a palette of gleaming white, tempered by larch wood. Concrete columns, inserted to support the levels above, infuse an industrial vibe.
The second level, where the house’s bedrooms used to be, became the design studio. Private offices for senior staff, an office area for the finance and administration departments, and conference rooms occupy three and four. All are connected by a corner staircase, a zigzagging composition in white that replaced the original central stair. “Relocating it allowed for more spacious work areas,” Micha says.