The Cosmovital Botanical Gardens of Toluca, Mexico are known for their stunningly beautiful stained-glass windows, and provide a stirring example of ways that a city can find beautiful re-use for its built infrastructure.
Designed in art nouveau style by engineer Manuel Arratia, the building was originally constructed in 1909-1910 as the 16th de Septiembre Market. Over time, Toluca outgrew the market’s capacity, and it was closed in 1975. Debates over what to do with the space ensued: some suggested it be demolished and replaced with an open plaza, or sold to private interests to convert into offices. Local artist Leopolodo Flores worked with Yolanda Sentíes (the city’s first woman mayor) to gather support around converting the metal-and-glass upper structure into a space for art:
Flores envisioned something magnificent for the space. He saw a huge stained glass mural encircling the entire building and running across the ceiling. Below and within its confines he proposed a botanical garden. The art would show the relationship between man and the universe, the flora that which places man in his ecological environment.
Over the next four years, work continued to clean off seven decades of grime, reinforce structural integrity, and construct the vast mural. It opened to the public in 1980, though battles in local government meant that the ceiling was only finished in 1990.
Flores and sixty artisans worked for three years, from 1978 to 1980. The window-mural consists of 71 modules which cover an area of about 3,200 meters square. The work uses approximately 75 tons of metal supports, 45 tons of blown glass and 25 tons of lead to join the about 500,000 glass pieces, which range in size from 15 to 45 cm. Twenty eight different colors of glass were used, most of which came from Italy, Germany, France, Belgium, Japan, Canada and the United States. On the north side of the building, blues dominate, with brighter colors on the south side. The sun is placed on the east side. The windows are the largest of their kind in the world.
Each year on the spring equinox, the sun aligns with the Hombre Sol. This annual event lasts about twenty minutes in the late afternoon and is celebrated with a classical music concert, timed to the passing of the sun.
The Hombre Sol has come to be taken as a semi-official symbol of the city and state. At present only five percent of visitors are foreigners, but perhaps that might change.
Thought I’d do a gathered post of my recent stained glass pieces. It is an interesting style to work with and a lot of people seem to like them.
As a reminder these ensemble style pieces are commission-able if you have a series you want to see one for! They start at $60 and will be negotiated based on number of characters/complexity. If you’d like one message me on here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!