Mexico City: An Emerging Market
Editorial Team in Mexico, latin america

Facebook Mexico. Image © Rafael Gamo.

Mariela Buendia-Corrochano is co-managing director and design director in Gensler’s Mexico City office. Here, GenslerOn’s editorial team interviews Mariela about workplace design, strategy and trends in Mexico.

To read this blog in Spanish, click here.

Why is metropolitan Mexico City so appealing to global corporations right now?

There are a lot of business opportunities in Mexico. The country’s economy has remained healthy, yet grown only moderately in recent years. In the near future, economic activity is expected to accelerate based on a well-diversified manufacturing base and the government's decision to open the market in key sectors, such as energy and communications. Mexican exports have performed well, particularly in automotive, IT equipment and aeronautics. In the automotive industry, major manufacturers, including Toyota, BMW, Hoegh and GM, are opening offices. Because of a strong middle class, we are seeing growth in luxury retail and hospitality as well.

There is an attractive manufacturing market because of Mexico’s proximity to the U.S. and the local talent pool. Mexican workers are ranked among the hardest-working in the world, in terms of the amount of hours worked each year, according to the World Trade Organization. Mexico is making significant efforts to shake off the stigma of corruption and economic disparity and is becoming a great option for emerging market investment.

Facebook Mexico. Image © Rafael Gamo.

What trends in the workplace are impacting design in Mexico? Are there trends that you see happening in the U.S. or elsewhere that are noticeably present or absent in this market?

We are seeing workplace design issues in Mexico that are similar to the rest of the world. Within many offices that have adopted open plan, there isn’t a good balance of private, focus workspaces and more open, collaboration-friendly areas, and there isn’t enough workplace environment variety within spaces to promote productivity and innovation. In addition, in Mexico we have a workforce culture that values human interaction, takes time to socialize with their co-workers, and yet still believes in a hierarchical leadership structure and is proud of that heritage.

Mexican corporate leaders understand these workplace issues, but they are having a difficult time implementing global solutions because of the previously mentioned cultural issues. More progressive companies are implementing sustainable and wellness-driven strategies. And while most local Mexican companies haven’t found the benefits of LEED yet, office building developers have adopted LEED in their existing and new properties, where it is considered a standard practice.

Facebook Mexico. Image © Rafael Gamo.

What are some of the key opportunities and challenges in this market?

As we meet new clients and tour recently designed facilities, we’ve discovered that most spaces are designed in the open office spirit of tech companies, whether they are tech companies or other types of businesses for which entirely open plan arrangements might not be ideal.

At Gensler, we are workplace experts who have research-based strategies for creating design solutions for a variety of different business categories. We understand the design challenges and business functions of different types of companies such as law firms, financial services firms, consumer products companies, energy companies or technology companies. Gensler has a vast opportunity to bring our expertise in workplace design and strategy to not only global companies with offices in Mexico, but to local companies that are hungry for a partner that understands the issues they face.

Facebook Mexico. Image © Rafael Gamo.

What is Gensler’s strategic approach to this market, based on the work you’ve already been doing?

In Mexico, solving design challenges for the workplace sector is our core business. Workplace strategy is a huge opportunity in Mexico. Gensler is well positioned to provide workplace strategy at the highest level with tools that include the Workplace Performance Index (WPI), activity analysis, change management, visioning and more.

We think there is a huge opportunity in the education, hospitality and commercial office buildings practice areas. In the last few months we have met with several developers and brokers to find opportunities for new buildings.

Facebook Mexico. Image © Rafael Gamo.

How is authenticity, and the use of local materials, important in Mexico?

Authenticity is incredibly important in Mexican culture. Mexicans are very proud of their cultural heritage, diversity in visual arts, architectural richness, golden age cinema and cuisine. As we work with global companies, there is always a conversation about localizing their design solutions. Implementing local aspects of the Mexican culture is a must.

If I only had one day to visit Mexico City, what three things should I eat, see or do?

I would visit the Museo Nacional de Antropología: one of the best top 10 museums in the world. The Frida Kahlo Blue House and studio (Museo Frida Kahlo) is one of my favorites. Bosque de Chapultepec is a huge park where many museums are located. Zocalo is the city center where the cathedral, municipal building and presidential building are located. Paseo de la Reforma is the Champs-Élysées of Mexico City. Also, San Ángel and Coyoacán are two unique little towns that represent Mexico’s cultural richness. We have three of the world’s 50 best restaurants: no. 16, Pujol; no. 35, Quintonil; and no. 37, Biko. And of course, you need to visit your local taquerias.

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