Day 10 :: CASA X+

An unknown church from the 70’s, a church high on the Andes overlooking Quito, and CASA X.

I had breakfast with the usual brutish Aussies and headed off to the Teleferiqo – an elevated cable car that carries you up the Andies – for what I heard was an incredible view of the city below. Along the way I saw this great church and yelped at the taxi driver to drop me off – I ran around in glee having found another of Quito’s unknown gems; luckily there was a wedding ceremony in progress so yielding a camera caused no alarm to the security guards. If you could believe it, I entered the church pretending to be a guest and sat with what appeared to be family members of the groom until I found my chance to slip off to take pictures.

I eventually made my way up the mountain and saw the city from the view of god; the air was thin and cold and airplanes could be seen circling the airport at eye level. It was interesting, but at the end of the day I’d much rather be in the concrete jungle instead of hanging out in nature like some granola crunching tree-hugger. I know I’ll never hear the end of it from those barely-friends of mine who do the whole outdoors thing, but a tree in Chicago is not that different to me than a tree in the Andes.

Adrian picked me up when I got back to earth and invited me to lunch with his wife and daughter in Cumbaya (an area just beyond the valley). It turns out his wife, Maria Samaniego Ponce is the director of the 2010 Pan-American Architectural Biennial to commence at the end of the year here in Quito. Previous years’ events brought the likes of Thom Mayne, Todd Williams and Billie Tsien, amongst other notable US architects. As luck would have it, she asked me to be the coordinator and contact person for the United States and work with her to find young practices to showcase in the international event which will last for about a week at the end of the year. More details to come!

Afterwards we drove to their home (CASA X pictured above) and Adrian gave me the tour, showed me what he hated about the design, and all of the other nerdy stuff that comes along with the show-and-tell of an architect’s home. It was a pretty incredible structure. The simplicity of its formal order is rendered unnoticed by the material effects of glass and translucent panels that leak the ‘interiority’ of the house out to the mountains beyond. Short of going on with a review of the house, I’ll just say it was spectacular.

Quito proved itself to be a very vibrant city, maybe lesser so with its readily available architecture for public consumption, but certainly with the culture its young architects have begun to cultivate. I will be back to Quito, if for nothing else, then to have dinner with my new friends.

Tomorrow, Lima.

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