Medellín Launches International Contest to Design a Public Space in Pablo Escobar’s Former Residence

With the help of Empresa de Desarrollo Urbano/Urban Development Company (EDU) and La Sociedad Colombiana de Arquitectos/the Colombian Architect’s Society (SCA), Medellín has launched an international competition to design a space to remember and reflect on the period between 1983 and 1994.

These years were some of the most violent in the Colombian city’s history. In January 1988, a car bomb with 80 kilos of dynamite exploded in front of the Monaco Building, the former home of drug lord Pablo Escobar in El Poblado neighborhood. This was the first of a series of attacks between rival drug cartels in Medellin.

“Medellin is a wonderful city, a city that has transformed itself, and that today serves as an example of social innovation and inclusive growth for the rest of the world,” says Federico Gutiérrez, Medellin’s mayor, in a letter for the competition titled Architectural Blueprint for the design of a space for memory and reflection, Medellín 1983 – 1994. “Our past is what makes our story worth telling: in 1991, we were the most violent city in the world, 381 homicides per 100,000 residents. We cannot forget the pain and suffering that we lived through, and above all, we cannot forget who caused it.” 

The plot of land on which the decaying building sits will be the site for the future project, whose objective is “to generate a public space that encourages memory and reflection on the past while also paying homage to the brave people who lived and died during that time,” read the rules of the competition. “We’re talking about journalists like Guillermo Cano, about police officers like Valdemar Franklin Quintero; about judges like Mariela Espinosa; about all the citizens who acted according to their principles,” says Gutierrez in the missive.

Learn more about the competition here.