Foster Loses an Airport, Again

John Hill
31. October 2018
Image: Foster + Partners

The $13 billion international airport designed by Foster + Partners for Mexico City is facing cancellation after a national referendum saw 70 percent of people at the polls vote "no" on the project now under construction.

Although 70 percent is easily the majority, voter turnout for the referendum was just a hair over one percent. It was also "far from an official referendum," per the New York Times, which also conveyed "that there were no checks to prevent people from voting multiple times."

The informal referendum came from president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who was elected in July and made the pledge during his campaign, citing corruption around a project that was launched by his predecessor, Enrique Peña Nieto. If built, the new airport would become a Peña Nieto's legacy.

Foster + Partners, in collaboration with FR-EE (Fernando Romero Enterprise) and NACO (Netherlands Airport Consultants), was selected to design the airport in 2014, right around the time Norman Foster's proposal for a Thames Hub airport was rejected.

Image: Foster + Partners

Although construction of the airport was around one-third complete and nearly $5 billion has already been spent on the project, president-elect López Obrador wants to shelve the project, upgrade the city’s existing international airport, and build two new runways at an air base north of the city.

There are myriad issues with both the new airport as designed and the president-elect's plans. The new airport is being built on a dry lake bed with "challenging soil conditions" and potential for flooding (much of its expense deals with these conditions), while "the proposed alternative would support only a limited number of flights and would soon be surpassed by demand," per the Times.

​Construction of the Foster-designed airport is continuing until November 30th, when the current administration steps down.

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