Monterrey, a Mexican City and Landscape in Transformation: Three Rivers, One Region.

Studio Title:Monterrey, a Mexican City and Landscape in Transformation: Three Rivers, One Region.Sponsor:Agencia Para La Planeacion Del Dessarrollo Urbano de Neuvo LeonMonterey, Nuevo Leon, MexicoMs. Alicia Guajardo Alatorre; Executive PresidentGSD Departments:Department of Landscape Architecture and Department of Urban Planning and DesignAdvanced Option Studio, Spring 2005Instructors: Leland CottAdjunct Professor in Urban DesignMario SchjetnanVisiting Critic in Landscape ArchitectureThis studio will address the broader issues of planning and design of the built environment in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. The studio will engage eighteen students from the disciplines of Urban Planning and Design, Landscape Architecture, and Architecture during the spring semester, February 2005 through May 2005. An initial site visit to Monterrey by the class will be carried out early in this period under the guidance of Mario Schjetnan and Leland Cott. During this time there will be field visits to the study areas, seminars, workshops, and public meetings with local officials, professionals, and stakeholders. Monterrey is located in the northeastern region of the country and is Mexico\’s third largest city with a population of five million people. The economic base of the city has been the steel and metal industry as well as beer, which evolved into a solid glass and packaging industry. Today, Monterrey is one of Mexico\’s more dynamic economic and cultural centers; a complex metropolis with a diversified economy complementing the industrial base with a strong tertiary sector of services and several universities.The geographical setting of Monterrey creates a landscape situated between the Eastern Sierra Madre and the plains in a semi-desert environment. The Sierra creates a magnificent physical background for the city as well as being the source of a complex system of rivers and creeks. The city originated between seasonal rivers, the Santa Catarina and the Topochico. The intensity of a rapid urbanization, as well as a lack of understanding and sensibility for its setting have traditionally ignored those natural features, either as landscapes of potential green beauty; as ecological resources for water, plants and fauna; as form givers and organizers for the city or as possible public open space corridors and connectors to the Sierra.Traditionally, planning in Monterrey has seen land use controls, circulation and traffic arteries as structural elements of the city and as infrastructure to serve its industrial base. The new leadership, at the state and city, intends to reverse this non-sustainable relationship with its rivers, mountains and regional landscape. The studio focus will start from the need to plan from the origin of these natural features and will investigate strategies for, and the creation of, a new series of urban interventions at the landscape and urban design scale. The State Planning Authorities of Nuevo Leon will provide base maps, and other relevant information. Representatives of the municipal and state government will closely follow the Studio and will participate in mid-term and final juries. A publication will be prepared by the studio participants documenting the results and conclusions of their design and planning work. The Monterrey Studio will offer the opportunity to understand the phenomenon of the rapidly growing city – within the context of a rapidly growing economy – in conflict with a sensitive environment. There are many similarities between the Monterrey condition and other regions of Latin America, Eastern Europe and Asia.