August 12, 2005

Mexican Beauty

A Bare-bones high-rise condominium in Monterrey, Mexica, takes on life and personality at the hands of the Texas architecture-and design firm Treceavo Plano

A Bare-bones high-rise condominium in Monterrey, Mexica, takes on life and personality at the hands of the Texas architecture-and design firm Treceavo Plano

In South Florida, condo interior design tends to follow a similar path: see million-dollar condo complete with magnificent view; see kitchen and bath appointed with top-of-the-line appliances and furnishings. Keep the views; lose the kitchen and bath setups.

When you’re designing for clients in the Monterrey suburb of Garza Garcia, the neighborhood with perhaps the highest per-capita income in the country, the job can be just a tad more daunting. “Typically, condos in Mexico come ‘bra gris,’ or ‘gray construction site,’” says architect and designer Gonzalo Bueno, a native of Monterrey. This means that even the two-story, 3,000-square-foot pent-house shown here, complete with sweeping views of the Sierra Madre mountains and of the entire expanse of both Garza Garcia and Monterrey, was four cement walls and a floor when the owner bought it. It was, literally, gray, No plumbing. No electricity. Not even a stairway inside connection the two floors.

For a certain clientele, this setup is perfect, since there’s no element of the living space that can’t be entirely planned and his partner, Mauricio Lobeira, of Treheavo Plan (Thirteenth Level), it’s also a challenge that allows them to make full use of their backgrounds. The two met a Monterrey Tex, where they were both studying architecture. Three years after graduation, Treceavo Plano was born.

Together, the partners have built and designed spaces throughout Mexico, Dallas — where the offices of their U.S. furniture buying arm, 10+3, are located — and Miami Beach. (They’re constructing Santo, a new 7,000-square-foot restaurant and bar, just below the Lincoln Road offices of Perfect Vision Media Group.)

For this penthouse in the La Loma high-rise building. the owner wanted to “respect the views.” says Bueno. “He wanted to have very open spaces with no clutter, and very top of the line technology in everything.” The techie elements include a pop-up plasma TV that swivels 360 degrees and a pop-up unit that divides the living and dining rooms. The designers also built a wall-mounted cabinet in the bedroom to hold a second plasma TV.

To create the “contemporary, comfortable but clean-looking” interior the owner was looking for, Bueno and Lobeira separated the space into two bedrooms (there’s also a bedroom behind the kitchen dedicated to the live in butler). For the flooring and the stairs leading up to the second level, they chose ebonized mesquite hardwood.

The living room is set off from the entranceway by a beaded curtain that drops down from the top story. Inside is a mix of elements including a hand-knotted Nepalese wool rug, Hindu bracelets that Bueno and Lobeira mounted in acrylic and a painting by Mexican artist Benjamin Dominguez that the two found at the Emma Molina Gallery in Monterrey. They framed the painting so that it would fit with the cool, eclectic mood of the rest of the room and indeed the house.

The designers chose many of the pieces in the house from the HaRoo & HaRoo showroom in Dallas. Fabric from Zimmer + Rohde, furniture from Holly Hunt, rugs from Calvi and lamps by Rose Tarlow are used throughout.

Metallics and sheds of metal colors — copper in the bathroom, pewter in the kitchen — add a touch of shine that, in some cases, subtly reflects the twinkling lights from the city below. A few Baccarat pieces, strategically positioned at the top of the stairs and just in front of the Treheavo Plano-Designed mirror and opposite a seven-pronged white Simon candelabra in the dining room, sparkle in their own right even as, by night they magnify the crystalline scene just outside the windows.

The owner, a fish fanatic, gets to indulge part of his passion with a fish-filled fountain, designed and implemented by Bueno and Lobeira, that flows just outside the master bedroom.

The entire project, from floor plans to move-in, took about 14 months. And Bueno, who recently designed his own house in Dallas, can’t help admitting of the finished La Loma project. “I wouldn’t mind living there myself.”

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