Learning from Medellin
Medellin, the second-largest city in Colombia, was synonymous for years with drug cartels and a sky-high murder rate. (This certainly didn't help that reputation.) But recently the city has seen a remarkable renaissance, thanks in part to a serious investment in civic architecture spearheaded by former mayor Sergio Fajardo.
The rebirth has been so dramatic -- and the buildings that helped spur it so compelling -- that Medellin has become a pilgrimage spot for architects, writers, curators and planners eager to see how forward-thinking urban design has helped turn the city's fortunes around.
After spending nearly a week in the city, I've joined the ranks of the Medellin evangelists, ready to sing the praises of its new landmarks. But I've also got some caveats about the extent of the revival -- along with some thoughts about Medellin's larger significance for contemporary architecture, which is facing something of an identity crisis these days.
An update on the political career of Sergio Fajardo is here.
-- Christopher Hawthorne
Photo: Plan B Architects' canopy in the orchid garden at the Medellin Botanical Gardens. Credit: Sergio Gomez.