By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Known the world over for his modern white and glass facades with large windows and natural light-filled interiors, renowned architect, Richard Meier, has brought his signature style to Rio de Janeiro, completing his first project in South America. The new state-of-the-art and sustainable seven-story commercial office building, Leblon Offices, is located on Bartolomeu Mitre Avenue in the heart of Rio’s upscale neighborhood, Leblon.
“The completion of the Leblon Offices is very special for our firm as it represents our first completed building in South America and in Latin America,” exclaimed the Newark, New Jersey-born Meier in a statement from his firm, Richard Meier and Partners. “Brazil’s architecture is very distinct from Latin America as a whole and diverse in itself, and we are extremely honored to complete a project within a country that has such a rich architectural heritage.”
The firm’s current portfolio includes over one hundred projects across North America, Central America, Europe, and Asia including the Mitikah Office Tower in Mexico City, Mexico; the Jubilee Church in Rome, Italy; ECM City Tower in Prague, Czech Republic, OCT Clubhouse in Shenzen, China; and the Perry & Charles Street Condominiums in New York City.
For each project, Meier focuses on incorporating his clean and modernist style with the unique attributes of the city and its culture. “We look at how that project not only fulfills the functional requirements of what it is, but how it responds to where it is and how it enlivens the community,” Meier explained. “Brazil’s architecture celebrates natural light, openness and nature’s intimate relationship with the built environment, and these are elements that we have integrated in the design of the new Leblon Offices.”
British expatiate and developer living in Rio, James Lomas of Indigo Real Estate Investments, agrees and sees the possibility of the new building stimulating further development in the area. “Considering most of the buildings here in Leblon date back to the the sixties and seventies, it’s refreshing to have some modern architecture, hopefully this will be the catalyst for further redevelopment in what is a dated area.”
The Leblon Offices is easily identifiable from Bartolomeu Mitre Avenue by the façade’s white horizontal louvers, angled horizontal slats, which act as a means of bringing in as much natural light into the building as possible while minimizing glare. Combined with the building’s recessed entrance off the busy avenue, Richard Meier & Partners hopes to add an element of transparency to the structure and, at the same time, maintain privacy for the building’s clients.
“The design of the Leblon project does not contextualize itself with its material palette, but rather through its articulation and layering of the primary façade with a screen,” expressed Bernhard Karpf, the firm’s associate partner and head of the Leblon Offices project.
Adding, “This enables the building to recede from the city while maintaining a street front. It offers its inhabitants the desired privacy and protection from the sun while maintaining a visual connection to the street and the sense of transparency.”
The seven-floor structure, including three additional subterranean levels, has 70,000 square feet of leasable space and private parking. The recessed entrance leads to a vast and open ground-floor lobby, which also includes conference rooms, smaller meeting spaces and a staff kitchen on the same level.
Two open-air atriums within the building, featuring tall vertical gardens, add a natural element to the concrete structure and supply even more natural light to all the office areas.
Along with its unveiling, Leblon Offices also welcomed its first tenant, VINCI Partners, one of Brazil’s leading alternative investment and asset management firms, who have established Leblon Offices as its new international headquarters.
In a released statement, Guilherme Goldberg, real estate officer at VINCI Partners, said, “We believe [Leblon Offices] is magnificent, creating not only an exciting work environment but also a landmark for the local neighborhood.”