January 22, 2013

Wentworth Professor Wins International Competition

Delgado's design for the park includes an amphitheater and trolley system.

Before joining the Wentworth faculty as associate professor of architecture eight years ago, Manuel Delgado spent 20 years teaching and working as an architect in Caracas, Venezuela. Now, Delgado’s past is becoming his future—he’s planning to change the face of Caracas from 2,200 miles away.

Delgado and a team of architects from Medellin, Colombia recently submitted a design proposal to reimagine the former military airport in the center of the capital city Caracas as a sustainable urban park. From 69 entries in the La Carlota design competition, a panel of Caracas residents appointed by the Mayor selected Delgado’s team proposal in a two-phase design competition.

“This represents a great opportunity to approach a more sustainable model for the city of Caracas,” Delgado said.

Delgado, his design partners Jorge Pérez Jaramillo and OPUS (Office of Urban Projects), with an interdisciplinary team of young architects, engineers, landscape architects and advisors from Colombia and Venezuela worked since last April in the preliminary design the park.  Their proposal, “Natural and Social Reintegration of Caracas,” includes plans for a park system to connect the city, clean the river that runs through the city and add pedestrian amenities and new stops on the subway to improve public transportation.

“It’s not only about the design of a park, it’s about the transformation of the city through the creation of an assembly of parks,” Delgado said.

Boston helped shape Delgado’s vision for Caracas, learning from Olmsted’s park system, as he included a design for a trolley akin to Boston’s Green Line to circulate around the park and development on top of the highways to connect the city above ground. The design includes an esplanade, called the Agora, for large gatherings that can also serve as a helipad in case of emergencies within the city.

Delgado estimates that the park will not be completed for at least a decade. For now, he is content to help his hometown by beginning the transformation.

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