University of Miami’s School of Architecture (SoA), and donor, Urbetica, signed a gift agreement on May 30, 2019, at El Colegio Nacional in Mexico City. (El Colegio Nacional is a Mexican honorary academy with a strictly limited membership, created in 1943 by presidential decree in order to bring together the country’s foremost artists and scientists, who are periodically invited to deliver lectures and seminars in their respective area of specialty.) This gift will provide initial funding to support research on smart city design and planning, extending the work done by SoA’s Responsive Architecture and Design Lab (RAD Lab), in partnership with UM’s Center for Computation Science (CCS) on Zenciti, a planned smart city in the Yucatán peninsula near Merida, Mexico.
“With Zenciti, we had the rare opportunity of designing a smart city from scratch, from urban planning and design, to smart infrastructure and services,” said Rodolphe el-Khoury, Dean of the School of Architecture. “The support of Urbetica, the development force behind Zenciti, now allows us to continue to research and innovate in this field, at the confluence of urbanism and technology,” commented el-Khoury. He was joined for the signing by Jorge Ivan Espadas Espinosa, CEO and Jorge Solis Buenfil, Partner, Urbetica S.A.P.I de C.V.; and Joshua M. Friedman, senior vice president for Development and Alumni Relations at the University of Miami.
In March 2016, the University of Miami announced a hemispheric collaboration between CCS and the Yucatán State Government’s Information Technologies Innovation Center known as “Heuristic“, located in the Yucatán Science and Technology Park. Taking that collaboration a step further, RAD Lab and CCS came together to design Zenciti, located adjacent to the Park.
The donor, Urbetica, is driven by a deep passion to apply innovative technologies to everyday life, and wants the School of Architecture to utilize its innovative knowledge and creative thinking towards the advancement of the Zenciti living lab as a smart city platform and model for future smart cities. “At Zenciti we believe that the combined efforts of academia, businesses and government allows an industrial society to change into a knowledgeable society which in turn will transform the economic development of its cities and improve the life of its citizens,” said Jorge Ivan Espadas Espinosa, CEO of Urbetica. “We believe that cities as centers of economic development have an enormous challenge and great opportunity to use technology to become more efficient, more sustainable, and to offer better service to its residents. Therefore, we feel great satisfaction in giving this donation to establish a fund to do research on designing a prototype for a smart city of the future. We are certain that the University of Miami’s School of Architecture is the right institution to channel its innovative knowledge and creativity in the research and design of smart cities platforms. We also congratulate the School’s decision to name the Smart Cities space the ‘RAD Lab Zenciti Research Unit.'”
For additional information on Zenciti + U-SoA project, please visit: https://ccs.miami.edu/ccs-coe-rad-and-umsoa-to-design-smart-city-in-the-yucatan/.