Operating in the markets of Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, MAC Architects & Consultants is an experienced team that has delivered designs to more than 1,200 architecture projects and has been involved in the planning of nearly 500 real estate and commercial projects. Here, RLI sits down with President Gonzalo Montaño and Director Juan Ignacio Rodriguez to discuss the history of the firm and what comes next.
Being the oldest architecture and real estate professional services company in Mexico and as they celebrate their 70th anniversary, MAC Architects & Consultants is strengthening its divisions, offering a comprehensive consultancy service and extensive advice on all projects in which they participate in Mexico, Central and South America.
“We are not exclusively architects,” explains MAC Architects & Consultants President Gonzalo Montaño. “We are the only architectural firm in Latin America with an extensive and very well recognised area of market research and strategic planning, which has allowed us to learn, detect and thoroughly understand the needs of any market allowing us to solve our clients’ projects in the best and most profitable way.”
Juan Ignacio Rodriguez, Director adds: “No matter the geography, our work methodology allows us to understand the public and guide our designs to create spaces according to their needs, their budgets and their unique characteristics.”
In the past 12 months the company has been reassessing its team of collaborators, choosing to integrate new young professionals with a team of extensively experienced specialists, as well as returning to a couple of service areas which they underestimated a decade ago due to diverse market conditions. In recent years the business has been committed to designing projects that truly help improve the physical and social environment in which they are located, such as Plaza Nativa in the city of Monterrey, or Patio Claveria in Mexico City.
“Both of these centres have about 10,000sq m of GLA and are located in the heart of very traditional neighbourhoods in the two largest Mexican cities. These shopping centres have become the preferred recreational and meeting place for families in their surrounding areas, and have in the first instance revived and on the second instance improved the urban and social activity of their neighbourhoods,” explains Montaño. Currently they are developing several mixed-use projects, such as one in the El Bajío region in Mexico, in which they are integrating 140,000sq m for commercial, office and residential use in a very central location which is home to two million people. Another of our new projects is located in a mostly residential suburb of Mexico City where we are proposing a new shopping centre within a mixed-use project, with 80,000sq m of leasable area with a large proportion of profit and non-profit open spaces oriented to leisure, walking and entertainment,” says Rodriguez.
The company’s long experience in the Latin American market has allowed them to meet important representatives of the real estate industry in the region. Its practice of consulting and developing projects has substantially supported its architecture arm and kept them in close relationships with developers, investors, brokers and retailers. They work with national and international companies with a presence in the region, or those seeking development opportunities in new markets. One example of this is IKEA, which have recently announced the opening of its first store in Mexico, and whom MAC has worked with for several years. Another example is Sodimac, a Chilean company that is specialised in home and hardware stores that has already opened three stores in Mexico as part of a multi-store project.
Barrera and Estrada both feel that, considering the size of the economy, the demographic potential and the company’s origin, Mexico continues, for the business, to be the main market in the region. However, when considering its deep similarities and the recent development of a new global shopping centre industry, Central and South America clearly represent important business opportunities for both MAC and potential investors in the sector as well as for retailers looking to expand their presence in the area, therefore the company is reinforcing its interest and vision in these markets. So what would the directors say are the group’s strengths and what have been the key drivers behind the success they’ve had to date?
“We have always sought to offer integral solutions to our clients, which is why in the last 20 years we have managed to strengthen our presence in the market both through architecture and real estate planning,” says Montaño. We are also convinced that a great project is only resolved with the participation of all parties, so listening and taking care of the needs of our clients is essential as well as adequately responding to market requirements and integrating the best team of consultants for each project,” adds Rodriguez. The goal for the company in the future is to capitalise on the first 70 years of the firm, migrate to a third generation of leadership and position themselves as one of the most important architecture and real estate planning firms in Latin America.