Carlos Slim, the Sphinx-like Mexican telecom baron who also owns a huge chunk of The New York Times, seems studiously plain. But it looks like he's ready to step up the flash. As Bloomberg reports, the billionaire is erecting a wildly futuristic building that'll be both an art museum and the headquarters for his company, Grupo Carso:
Imagine a gleaming aluminum cube that has been stretched and twisted so that it soars 150 feet into the sky, its curving upper contours reminiscent of the bow of a ship. The design is at once whimsical and structurally daring...
The entire project was designed by someone very close to Slim: his son-in-law Fernando Romero, 38, who before setting up his own practice in Mexico City worked for four years with the Office for Metropolitan Architecture under Pritzker Prize- winning architect and urbanist Rem Koolhaas in Rotterdam.
What a great in-law to have, if you're an architect.
At a rumored cost of $34 million, the design itself is a bit of an engineering miracle, and required the combined expertise of Arup, which engineering the Bird's Nest stadium in Beijin, and Gehry Technologies, the engineering firm spun off from Frank Gehry's architecture practice. The facade is comprised of 16,000 individual aluminum plates, hung from 28 columns, all of them shaped differently.
All of which had to have been appealing to Slim, a numbers guy whose employees still call him "The Engineer." Certainly, the look doesn't seem to be his thing: Slim's 66,000-piece art collection, while excellent, is about as straight laced as the man himself. Its crowning feature is a huge assortment of Rodins—the largest outside of France—and old masters dating back to the 15th century. Then again, what's $34 million to Slim? Probably just a nice little dowry, to get his son-in-law up and running. Or maybe he's facing a 3/4 life crisis.