Cayalá has grand designs

Author: School of Architecture

A new traditional, classically-inspired town named Cayalá outside Guatemala City, was master planned by inaugural Driehaus Prize laureate León Krier and Estudio Urbano, with buildings designed by Pedro Godoy M.Arch ’00, Maria Sánchez M. Arch ’00, and Professor Richard Economakis. Its first phase was inaugurated in November 2011. The goal was to create a sustainable, mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented environment “where buildings create a sense of place and are built at the human scale,” Economakis says.

Although Guatemala has a number of fine traditional towns, including the World Heritage city of Antigua, the urbanism outside the historical centers is of poor quality, demanding a new vision, he says. Cayalá’s first phase includes mixed-use apartments, commercial structures, and public buildings. The town center, which is the first of eight quarters to be realized, has streets designed as shared spaces, colonnades opening to shops, a market building with underground parking, a convention center and civic hall or “Athenaeum,” designed by Economakis. A classical design that incorporates elements of Mayan temples, the Athenaeum reminds David Brussat of The Providence Journal of the “seemingly natural, unplanned grandeur” of Rome. The entrance has pyramidal steps leading to a classical portico to be used occasionally as a stage for public performances.

Future phases include Santa Maria Reina de la Familia, a domed church by Godoy and Sanchez that will serve 700 parishioners, and an entrance tower designed by Krier.