ISABEL RUBIO ARROYO | Tungsteno
Gran Torre Santiago in Chile rises 300 metres into the sky. As well as being one of the tallest skyscrapers in Latin America, it also stands out for its ability to withstand earthquakes. It survived the 8.8 magnitude quake that devastated much of central and southern Chile in 2010. This is how it and other iconic Latin American skyscrapers such as the Obispado Tower in Mexico and the One Tower in Brazil were built.
Torres Obispado (Mexico)
Torres Obispado (Obispado Towers) is a complex of two skyscrapers located in Monterrey, completed in 2020. With a height of 305 metres and 62 floors, the tallest building in the complex, called T.Op Torre 1, is also the tallest in Mexico and Latin America. It houses offices, a hotel and commercial space. The smaller, 156-metre, 42-storey tower is designed for residential use only. Both structures have a 12-storey car park.
The architects opted for a sustainable design. They chose energy-efficient LED lighting and air-conditioning systems, and prioritised natural light to reduce energy consumption. They also used rainwater to irrigate gardens and green areas. Next to these megastructures will be the Torre Rise, a new skyscraper that began construction in 2023. If all goes according to plan, on completion it will be 475 metres high and have 99 floors.
Torre Obispado is the tallest tower in Mexico and Latin America. Credit: Skyscrapers & MegaProjects
Gran Torre Santiago (Chile)
Gran Torre Santiago (Great Santiago Tower) is 300 metres tall and has 64 floors. Construction began in 2006 but was not completed until 2014 due to the global financial crisis of 2008 and 2009. It is the main building of the Costanera Center complex, located in the heart of the financial district of Santiago, the capital of Chile. The glass-clad tower made from recycled steel has a sophisticated structural earthquake protection system and uses water from the San Carlos Canal to cool the building.
Surrounded by the majestic Andes Mountains, Gran Torre Santiago is a modern expression of the shape of an obelisk, according to international architectural firm Pelli Clarke & Partners. Its upper floors house an observatory. "No human-built form can compete with the power of these mountains. The tower is designed to be part of the city, without cosmic pretensions," said Argentine architect César Pelli, who helped design the tower.
Gran Torre Santiago withstood a strong earthquake in 2010. Credit: OneCity
One Tower (Brazil)
One Tower is the tallest skyscraper in Brazil and the second tallest in South America (after Gran Torre Santiago). Located in the city of Balneário Camboriú in southern Brazil, it is also the tallest all-residential building in Latin America. It is 290 metres high and has 70 floors. According to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), each floor contains two apartments, with the exception of four floors dedicated to recreational areas.
Construction was completed in 2022 and involved more than 2,000 workers. More than 9,000 tonnes of steel and 24,992 cubic metres of concrete (the equivalent of more than 8,000 truck mixers) were used to erect the megastructure. The skyscraper has five lifts that travel at a speed of five metres per minute, reaching the top in less than a minute.
The One Tower skyscraper is the tallest all-residential building in Latin America. Credit: AçoForte Chapas
These are just some of the most iconic skyscrapers in Latin America. Others include the JW Marriott Panama, the tallest in Panama; the Torre Latinoamericana and the Torre Insignia, both in Mexico; the Edifício Copan, in Brazil; and the Colpatria Tower, in Colombia. As well as being located in Latin America, all these buildings have something else in common that is immediately striking: they seem to caress the sky.
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