UNAM in the City, an Uncertain Project
By Jesús Aguado
The branch of UNAM (National Autonomous University of México) does not have enough room to hold its activities, and space is even less now that the Casa de la Cultura offices have moved to the same building on Mesones 71. The city council donated four hectares to the UNAM; however, UNAM does not have legal certainty about use of the plot due to the protocols of both the city council and the educational institution.
When the administration of Luz María Núñez started the restoration of the house on Mesones 71, she said that it would shelter the offices of the Casa de la Cultura that had been located at the El Chorro building for 14 years. In recent years 12 million pesos were invested in changing the floors and roofs in the building on Mesones, as well as doing electrical, hydraulic, and sanitation installations. The building already includes a theater with a capacity for 120 people. Although the building was planned for the Casa de la Cultura during the Núñez administration, that idea went unfulfilled when Mayor Mauricio Trejo attracted the UNAM, offering the second story of the building to the institution, which opened with language courses on June 25, 2013.
When the extension of the UNAM was invited to the city, it was said that the location would feature a preparatory school. The director of the UNAM in San Miguel, Dr. Francisco Ramos, commented that this would be in a very advanced phase because if a building were constructed, it would feature classrooms for continuation of the language courses and other cultural activities. Facilities would also include an auditorium and open spaces for recreation.
Ramos commented that the UNAM does not have legal certainty of the land because the transition has not been completed yet due to protocols both institutions need to follow. Ramos remarked that engineers from the UNAM have visited the plot, and they are now working on an executive project, “but we cannot invest a single peso until the transition is done.” He also said that there is no deadline for finishing the process.
At the end of last year, the offices of the Casa de la Cultura moved to the same building from the El Chorro building, which is under restoration for the first time in 15 years. Architect Édgar Bautista, director of the Urban Development Department, told Atención that the sidings are being changed and the quarry frames are being fixed because they were damaged by humidity. The roofs are also under maintenance because flora from the trees grew on them and cracked them. One million pesos from the INAH are being invested, and this work will end in April.
Currently, nobody knows what the next use of these facilities will be, but “people can wait for a surprise,” commented Bautista, making it clear that the local administration wants it to be a “live space” with activities 18 hours a day.