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.
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.
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.
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.
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.