Torre Latinoamericana: The Earthquake-Resistant Skyscraper in Mexico City

Today, September 16, marks Mexican Independence Day, the perfect moment to shine some light on the beautiful Mexican member of the World Federation of Great Towers: The Latin American Tower or Torre Latinoamericana.

The tower was inaugurated on April 30th, 1956, after 7 years of construction and with its height of 182 m (597 ft.) it was Mexico City’s tallest completed building for almost 27 years. Designed by architect Augusto H. Álvarez, who was inspired by the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building in New York, the 44-story skyscraper is one of Mexico City’s most important landmarks. It is not only the skyscraper’s impressive height and weight (25,000 tons!) that make it so special, in fact the Torre Latinoamericana was the world’s first major skyscraper successfully built on highly active seismic land! The tower successfully withstood the earthquakes in 1957 (7.9 magnitude), 1985 (8.1 magnitude) and most recently in September 2017 (7.1 magnitude). It is therefore recognized internationally as an engineering and architectural landmark, and has even received an award from the American Association of Construction and Engineering.

Reaching that level of strength has been no small feat, however. Architect Augusto H. Álvarez worked together with Dr. Leonardo Zeevaert (engineer and geologist, who, according to widespread rumour, was the first civil engineer to experience an earthquake in a building he constructed) and his brother Adolfo Zeevaert, as well as American engineer Nathan M. Newmark. Together they took inspiration from various places to solve the difficult issues associated with building on active seismic land; therefore the building has been made of glass and steel, like the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building in New York and has a wooden pile foundation, as was the Aztecs’ way of construction, to act as absorbers of shock in case of earth tremors.

Today, the unique structure enjoys up to 600,000 domestic and international visitors a year. From its observation deck on the 44th floor, visitors enjoy the panoramic views over one of the largest cities in the world. Besides enjoying the 41st floor bar and restaurant, guests can visit two on-site museums and enjoy Virtual Reality experiences on site.

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