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Award of Merit: High-Rise Category

Rehabilitation of the UNAM Cultural Center Building
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Cuauhtémoc, México D.F.

Submitted by BASF Corporation

UNAM Cultural Center Building

Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM)
Cuauhtémoc, México D.F.

Project Engineer/

Dirección General de Obras de la UNAM
Cuauhtémoc, México D.F.

Repair Contractor
Nova Diseño y Construccion, S.A. de C.V.
Naucalpan, Mexico

Material Supplier/

BASF Mexicana S.A. de C.V.
Tultitlán, Mexico

This project involves the foundation stabilization and strengthening of the structural elements within a multi-story tower. The tower, originally built for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, now serves as a cultural center for the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). 

The tower was in dire condition prior to the structural repair work completed in 2010. Subsoil conditions combined with damage during the 1985 Mexico City earthquake had rendered the building unsafe to occupy. The tower itself was built on top of the previously existing Lake Texcoco. Neither the existing foundation nor the strengthened foundation extended passed the unstable soils from the dry lake bed. The survey did discover a solid soil base at 78.7 ft (24 m) deep. 

The challenges included stabilizing a 22-story building that had tilted over 3.3 ft (1 m) due to an insufficient foundation design and strengthening several damaged structural elements within the building itself. Thirty-six new deep control piles were added to the foundation to extend the foundation to stabile soil and control the settlement of the structure. With the foundation stabilized, the structure itself required additional reinforcement to reinstate capacity lost from the damage it under­went. The structure was strengthened with new concrete shear walls in the basement, with supplemental structural steel cross bracing on the exterior shear walls, and the main beams in each floor were strengthened with externally bonded carbon fiber-reinforced polymer reinforcement to increase shear capacity.

The repair work completed allowed the building to not only be salvaged, but also adapted into a well-recognized cultural center in the northern part of Mexico City. Forty-four years after the tower was originally constructed, it is now finally possible to use the building at its full capacity.

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