Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar once supplied 80% of the cocaine in the United States and was worth an estimated $30 billion at his peak. He was a hero to some of his countrymen, one of the most wanted criminals in the war on drugs, and most recently the protagonist in the Netflix series Narcos. He’s also the father of Juan Pablo Escobar, who changed his name to Sebastián Marroquín and is an author, t-shirt entrepreneur, and architect who has quietly been practicing at the Argentine firm Box Arquitectura since 2005, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Between designing mega mansions, social housing in Argentina, a public wellness center, and writing a second memoir, Marroquín found time to speak to Architect’s Newspaper about his career. “This is the first interview of my life we are talking about architecture and not about my father,” he told the publication. Marroquín’s life story could go toe-to-toe with his father’s, as the interview reveals. A few highlights:
Marroquín believes architecture saved his life:
Architecture saved my life because it gave me the possibility to believe that even when something is demolished new things can come out of that and architecture really helps to know how to think not only about architecture but also about life.
Design runs in the family:
My grandfather on my mother’s side was a woodworker. He made a lot of furniture and he was also a designer. Also on my father’s side, we have a lot of artists. Some of my aunts are really good at painting and making stuff with their hands and I believe that is where, in a way, I found love in design and architecture. It was also because my mother is an interior designer—in the past, we had a lot of properties and a lot of buildings and my mother was involved in the design process, and I was always keeping an eye on that.
The first house he designed was for an unnamed client he later learned tried to kill him:
For the first house that I built in Colombia, I didn’t even know who the client was. It was a mystery. There was a request, and they sent me the photographs, the plans, the coordinates, and everything that I needed to design the house. I never went to the place where the house is built. I don’t even know where it exists. When it was complete, they called me and I found out that the owner was one of the guys who, in 1988, put 700 kilos of dynamite in my house. It was a miracle that we survived because I was with my mom and my little sister there. It was the first car bomb in Colombia’s history. So I built the house for the guy who ruined mine.
He’s a master of hiding things:
Colombia is not a safe country and people don’t trust banks, so every work of architecture I offer the client a possibility of “Do you want to have a secret place in your house like a panic room or something like that?” People say, “Yes, I would love to have the son of Pablo Escobar show us how to hide.”
As the son of Pablo Escobar, I know how to hide!
Read the full interview in Architects Newspaper.