Olmo Tower


The new Torre Olmo is in the city of Xalapa, next to the highway overpass Arco Sur. The site has a strong topographic slope, with the highest level being 7m above the street level.

On the west side of the building is a stairway that connects to the lobby, a ramp offers an alternate way of arriving to the same lobby. The lobby and the business center are located above the commercial space. This floor level offers different services as a front desk, an auditorium and meeting rooms among other amenities. The office floors are completely flexible so they can accommodate a wide variety of layouts, there is a central core where elevators, stairs and bathrooms are located.

The design of the outer facade layer gives the office building a distinctive character. From a distance and during the day it is perceived as a solid metallic cube. The texture is achieved with only two different 3D panels and all the possible configurations allowed by the geometry of the panels. By night the skin of the building becomes transparent due to the tiny perforations of the metal sheet, transforming the building into an urban night lamp.

Design Challenge

The main challenge was to find an adequate and balanced response to the program, which required flexible open office space, and the site which is located on a rising platform right beside a vehicular overpass. The characteristics of the site demanded an architectural solution that could take advantage of the special conditions of location and topography, our proposal was to produce a pure geometrical form, placed atop of a platform that could signal a reference point in the city, the challenge was to solve the facades of a neutral cube without compromising the building to the less favorable orientation. The solution was to treat the four facades equally, with a material that could permit the views to the landscape and at the same time could protect the building from the sun of the west.  Therefore, the building has a dual layer for the facades, an exterior perforated metal cladding in triangular panels that protects from heat gains and excessive sunlight, and an inner glass layer, the space in between is a corridor that permits the employees to walk outside the air-conditioned space to relax and enjoy the surrounding views, the corridor acts also as a buffer that dissipates the heat from the perforated metal panels and reduces significantly the energy consumption. Above the previous description was also the challenge to design within a budget and a schedule, the project met both targets, economic and time of construction, in part due to the collaboration of the supplier who could reduce the time for manufacturing and cost of the panels since the design required just an optimized single triangular panel, the diversity achieved in the façade comes as a result of how this single panel is first assembled with another panel and then how they can be randomly installed in 16 different positions.