Adventures in Squareland

travels and work around the world



May '13 - Feb '16

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    first day as an American intern in a Mexican architecture office

    Alec Perkins
    Jun 18, '13 10:02 AM EST

    They say that there’s 22 million people living in Mexico City, and they all decided to ride the metro with me today.

    My tablet clock was set to the wrong time zone, so I woke up and left an hour earlier than I’d planned on leaving. It was a good thing I did. It took me about an hour 15 to get to work this morning. And I have a feeling that’s typical.

    The combi got into gridlock traffic in front of the metro station. If you imagine a triangle where each side is actually four lanes of one-way traffic, this is the gridlock that was created. Over the weekend, I noticed the metro station had huge pedestrian barricades, likes the winding lines they use to corral people at Disneyland. I wondered if they were a vestige of the old bullring that used to be here, when thousands of people would simultaneously depart.

    Apparently, its used for weekdays. The line to buy TICKETS stretched across the vast hall, and the line to put your ticket into the turnstile took awhile to get through. The metros were Tokyo packed, people smashed up against the glass windows in the doors. Of course, I need to take three trains to get to my destination, so I fought my way though masses of people the likes I’ve never seen in the underground flows. I got to the office around 8:30, and stopped at the coffee shop on the first floor for a bagel. A european guy with a close haircut came in and ordered a coffee- he was wearing jeans, a white tee shirt with a gray blazer. and he had worn leather messenger bag. Definately an architect. And he was smoking, which clinched the deal.

    I approached him and said “perdon, eres un architecto?” He said “oh, you must be Alec!” It was one of the two bosses of the office.

    He finished his cigarette and brought me upstairs. He kind of indicated that I should find a desk and I took it on myself to introduce myself to the people sitting near me. The office is small, really only one main room with a few small conference rooms. It has gorgeous floor to ceiling windows which look out onto the canopies of the trees on the Paseo de la Reforma, with all of the Jacaranda’s blooming.

    Anyway, I got to know the people at my desk pretty well, and the next desk over had two women, one of whom walked me through a proposal she was working on, and the other who was my direct supervisor and basically told me what I’d be working on and who I should be talking with.

    I got to know the three people at my table. All of them speak English relatively well, and they’ve all studied or worked abroad. I was surprised to find that one of my colleagues studied under Angelo Bucci while in Brazil. Architecture is a small world. Another guy studied in Albuquerque (I love the people there man, they’re all so nice!) and also worked in Japan.

    The guy I’m working with on this project took me out to lunch at a “comida corrida” a kind of food stall which sold “guisados” (country dishes). I ordered spicy pork with nopales (prickly pear) and steamed squash with other vegitables. It came with rice and beans and a fruit water and tons of tortillas. M$40, which is less than $4. We ate, squeezed into a plastic picnic table along with a bunch of other office workers.

    The office hours run basically from 8:30 to 7pm. We get a coffee break at 11, and lunch from 2-3. It’s a long day, but it went surprisingly fast.

    Another colleague lives in my direction, so we walked to the metro together and rode it for two lines and chatted before I split off. After another switch, I finally got back to my station and seizing a short ticket line, asked if I could by one of the reloadable cards used for the subway. The ticket seller seemed to be making up her mind about whether she wanted to be bothered helping a pincha gringo (American), but she finally pulled out the cards and loaded some money on it.

    Did better getting home this time via the combi. Got dropped off only one street off this time.

    I am pretty wiped. Enduring public transport in Mexico City for an hour will take a lot out of you. I am very happy to have made a few friends at the office so far.

    • 1 Comment

    • firzen9000

      Man, this was a good insight for me who is looking for a job in Mexico... am an architect too... just now graduated... How is the pay there?

      And also it would be great if u could also temme about the living conditions there...  
      thanks in advance

      Jan 23, 17 4:35 pm  · 

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Urban and architectural explorations from Mexico City to Stuttgart Germany through the eyes of a iterant architectural designer

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