Por Architectural Record
Escrito por Beth Broome
In the early 1990s, following his graduation from Rice University’s School of Architecture and a stint at Ricardo Bofill’s office in Barcelona, Eduardo Aizenman returned to Mexico City, which still had not recovered from the devastation of the 1985 earthquake. Wanting to create community, breathe new life into the city, and just have a place to hang out, Aizenman and his friends conceived a bookstore-café (or Cafebrería) in the historic Condesa neighborhood, which had been particularly hard hit. The move helped fuel a local renaissance and, over the years, the partners brought their Cafebrería El Péndulo concept to various precincts, with Aizenman designing unique bookstore- cafés for each location.
The partners have recently opened their seventh—and first ground-up—outlet in the San Ángel neighborhood, along the busy Avenida Revolución 1500, wedged between a theater complex and a government building. Beyond an unassuming, boxy metal and pine-plank exterior lies a striking 26-foot-high interior laced with retail, dining, and lounge seating scattered across its various levels. “The challenge,” Aizenman says, “was, how do you make this big, 10,500-square-foot box and give it human scale?” The theater next door provided cues. “There was this idea of stages, different levels of platforms where you could see and others could see you,” he says. “We wanted to make a big hangar-like space where things would happen.” Indeed, on a recent rainy evening, El Péndulo buzzed with activity as the young clientele browsed the shelves, chatted over drinks, and worked on their laptops.
In its newest iteration, El Péndulo continues its mission of turning a retail space into an experiential cultural hub—an approach that’s now very much in vogue. “It’s a bit like WeWork,” says Aizenman laughing, “but we don’t charge.”