Tzu Chi’s Global HQ Construction Director Provides Expertise and Learns About Local Culture for Rebuilding Mexico’s Morelos Institute

National Headquarters  |  November 11, 2019
Minchao Lin, director of the Tzu Chi's Global HQ Construction Department, visited Mexico to survey the rebuilding site for Morelos Institute in Jojutla. Photo by Jaime Puerta

Written by: Jennifer Chien
English translation by:  Diana Chang
Edited by Adriana DiBenedetto

In September of 2019, Minchao Lin, Director of Tzu Chi’s Global HQ Construction Department, accompanied by colleagues and volunteers from Tzu Chi USA to visit Mexico. Their mission: to analyze and move forward with construction projects at two locations, one in Tijuana, and one in Jojutla. 

Tzu Chi has completed several rebuilding projects in Central and South America over the past two decades, however, this marks the first occasion that Tzu Chi’s Chief Construction Director has personally provided his on-site inspection and visited builders.

Tzu Chi USA's team stayed in Mexico from September 9th through the 13th for the construction progress report. Several meetings were held with local architects and builders. Photo by Jaime Puerta

Thanks to his professional background and experience with previous projects in other countries, Minchao Lin presented many valuable suggestions regarding details on the construction design, process, and engineering plan.

Pieces of Advice to Improve Efficiency

From September 6th – 8th, Minchao Lin and his colleague, Yafang Chen, had visited Tzu Chi’s previous project, Escuela Primaria Tijuana Tzu Chi in Mexico. They then traveled to Mexico City and Jojutla to analyze the rebuilding project for Morelos Institute from September 9th – 13th along with architects and builders, and conducted an evaluation of the construction progress.

With respect to local vendors, Lin also made many suggestions for this project with many feasible suggestions from past experiences. As an architect, I’m glad to have this discussion with like-minded professionals and I’ll definitely implement his idea.

Pablo Quintero Valladares, Morelos Institute Rebuilding Project Architect
Buenaventura Construction owners Eric and Salvador, and architect Pablo Quintero Valladares. Photo by Jennifer Chien
Pablo Quintero Valladares, the architect for the Morelos Institute rebuilding project. Photo by Jaime Puerta

The builder responsible for the Morelos Institute project is Buenaventura Construction. Eric Castillo, the owner and a civil engineer for the project, pointed out that through this collaboration with Tzu Chi, he has uncovered many new approaches to different aspects of the planning and building process.

In addition to a discussion meeting with the architects and builders in the office, Eric said that Minchao Lin also provided advice for the construction design drawings, project schedules, building materials, and more. Lin also visited the site where construction had already begun. Mindful of the project at hand, he provided further suggestions, such as the adjustment of construction plans, and what to expect when implemented. Together, they hope to establish a smooth rebuilding process which saves both time and funds. 

Mexico’s Traditional Architecture

After the visit, Minchao Lin was confident that all the tasks on the to-do list were successfully completed.

Confirming the construction design, site planning, construction progress, construction quality for the rebuilding project were the most important tasks on this trip.

I have already made many suggestions on how to improve the progress of this project from my past experience. For example, the use of reliable heavy equipment is essential to the success of our construction operation, how to complete the infrastructure before the rainy season, avoid the impact of subsequent construction, and so on. The main purpose is to ensure that the project can be completed in mid-July.

Minchao Lin, Director of the Tzu Chi Global HQ Construction Department
Minchao Lin visits the site of Morelos Institute, which had been destroyed by the earthquake. Photo by Jennifer Chien
Pablo guided Minchao Lin as they observed the ancient buildings in Mexico City. Photo by Jaime Puerta

During a meeting, Minchao Lin had expressed wonder as he spoke with Pablo and learned about the archways in traditional architecture. This traditional building technique will be used when rebuilding the school. Pablo arranged a visit to the old town of Mexico City for Lin to observe the traditional archways and gain a deeper understanding of the architectural culture in Mexico.

In addition to visiting the old town of Mexico City, Minchao Lin also learned about the rich history and culture of Mexico, including the traditional architectural styles from The National Museum of Anthropology, and the Sun and the Moon pyramids of the Aztecs. Lin also mentioned an 18th-century fountain — the exterior decoration was a combination of Chinese porcelain and local seashells. These visits also gave him great inspiration for many new ideas regarding architectural design.

A Passion for Architecture

Minchao Lin’s visit will help Tzu Chi’s rebuilding projects in Mexico achieve better construction, historical and cultural fidelity, and ensure optimal progress and planning. The schools can thus be completed according to schedule, enabling more children from low-income families in remote areas to gain an exceptional, free education, and have the opportunity to enter into universities as they strive toward their next chapters in life.

During the visit, Minchao Lin evaluates and keeps a record of the local architectural features. Photo by Jaime Puerta
Pablo and Minchao Lin discuss the architectural design of an archway. Photo by Jaime Puerta

Despite the trip being fairly short, Lin utilized his time and innovative planning techniques to complete his objectives. Taking time to explore the architectural culture of Mexico has, indeed, enriched his architectural ideas with a professional design perspective. This approach is of immense value to one’s self-enrichment, and he is grateful for the strong bonds forged with peers who share his passion for architecture.

Lin’s visit achieved a two-way learning goal to help Tzu Chi express both loving-kindness and the importance of culture in architectural designs, while also learning more about local customs and construction practices. We look forward to an efficient and enriching construction process.

Minchao Lin and Tzu Chi's team visited the rebuilding site to ascertain the progress of the project. Photo by Jaime Puerta
Minchao Lin explains the methods of Tzu Chi's rebuilding project to local builders. Photo by Jaime Puerta

To discover more about Tzu Chi’s Morelos Institute rebuilding project, and how it all began after the 2017 earthquake in Mexico destroyed the beloved school, please visit

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