The Architecture of Light lecture by Bernardo Gmez-Pimienta

As a part of the Awards of Excellence in Architecture program of the Ordre des architectes du Qubec (OAQ), architects and the general public are invited to attend a lecture at the Canadian Centre for Architecture on January 18, 2007 at 5:00pm, to be presented by Mexican architect Bernardo Gmez-Pimienta, founder of the firm BGP Arquitectura. Anyone interested in attending is requested to reserve by filling out the electronic form, which can be found at the Order’s website at in the section “Prix d’excellence en architecture”, under “vnements publics et culturels.”

Gmez-Pimienta, an architectural graduate from Anhuac University in Mexico City and Columbia University in New York, and creator of more than 100 architectural projects in Mexico, Europe and the United States, will be chair of the jury for the 24th edition of the OAQ’s Awards of Excellence in Architecture. He will be in Montreal from January 14 to 18, 2007, and, following the deliberations of the jury and at the end of his lecture, the names of the projects and firms nominated for the Award of Excellence, Special Mention, People’s Choice and Children’s Choice awards will be announced.

Gmez-Pimienta was born in Brussels, Belgium on August 18, 1961. After architectural studies in Mexico and the United States, he co-founded the firm TEN Arquitectos and was its co-director from 1987 to 2003, when he started his own company, BGP Arquitectura. He is Dean of the Anhuac School of Architecture, vice-president of international affairs for the Federation of Architecture Associations and a member of the National Academy of Architecture and the CONALCUTA national designers program.

While at TEN Arquitectos, Gmez-Pimienta put his talents to good use on architectural and urban designs, notable among them the National Theatre School, Hotel Habita, the Insurgentes Theatre, the French Centre for Young People of Lindavista, the service buildings of Televisa, all located in Mexico City, and the JVC Congress and Exhibition Centre in Guadalajara. These projects were discussed in major national and international publications and earned the architect the first Latin American Mies van der Rohe Prize in 1998.

Gmez-Pimienta has received more than 40 awards, a fact that underlines the importance of his career and the excellence of his work. Moreover, TIME magazine described him as the most important Mexican architect of his generation. His work has influenced a good number of young Latin American designers and architects because it opens the doors to and pushes the limits of contemporary creation, capable of combining elegance with precision, the aspirations of the modern world with the traditions of local culture.

With BGP Arquitectura, Gmez-Pimienta has thrown himself into multidisciplinary work, combining the design of furniture and objects with the architectural process. The firm has thus been involved in new projects on every possible scale, applying the same rigorous design concepts to a simple coffee cup as to creating a chair, a house, a park or a 100-metre tower.

The lecture on January 18, 2007 will cover the multidisciplinary work of the architect and the crucial link between all his works: light. Whether his is working on the micro or the macro scale, the architect uses light as a “construction material that can be used as if it were reinforced concrete or iron,” he explains. He continues, “The light in Mexico has very special characteristics, created, of course, because of the proximity to the tropics, the altitude of Mexico City (2,000 metres) and the pollution that gives it a strange hue that I play with extensively.” Drawing on projects such as the Hotel Habita and the service buildings of Televisa, Gmez-Pimienta will describe the feelings he has for light, and the way he weaves it into materials, technology and all types of cultural and social values. Light allows him to create spaces in which people can interact, meet one another and fully express themselves. “I conceive architecture as an activity marked by its time, in which one grasps and transcribes an entire social organization, a technology, a level of culture, art and economics… in short, all of society’s aspirations are contained in architecture, and that is what gives it its power and its beauty.”

The philosophy of BGP Arquitectura is drawn from a varied creativity, which takes into consideration diverse typologies applied to a concept that is unique to each project. The result is a contemporary architecture, with accents and a rigour worthy of the greatest modernists. And, like Mies Van der Rohe and Le Corbusier, Gmez-Pimienta concentrates on simple forms and volumes, which he works from the outside in, refining space down to the smallest of details, including furniture and objects. For him, as for all great architects, industrial design is a part of the architect’s creative work. Thus, the object, or the piece of furniture, allows him to experiment with materials, structures and light, which streams constantly into the architectural language. The lightness, modernism and elegance of his creations flow through the design of objects. Gmez-Pimienta concludes, “Industrial design has greatly influenced my work. When I design an object, I always go to the essential. I apply this same method in my buildings, and it always requires that I say more with less, and light is the most appropriate material to achieve this result”

Admission to the lecture is free. For more information, please visit and