Towering Desolation

There’s a building in Mexico City that has for a long time rather bugged me. Distrito Federal is home to a few skyscrapers that tower above the skyline – three in particular. Torre Mayor, the tallest of them all sits on Reforma. The World Trade Center is an icon on Insurgentes. And of course Torre Latinoamericana, the grand pappy of the Mexico City towers. They’re all well known and oft visited landmarks.

But there’s another one. An extraordinary looking building that towers as majestically above its neighbourhood as the other three. Its triangular, pyramid like silhouette sitting further up Insurgentes in the rather less fashionable hood of Tlateloco. I’ve long wondered what this building was, and why it’s never mentioned, like a dirty little secret.

It’s Torre Insignia, although it has gone by other names in the past, Torre Banobras (after the name of a bank that owned it) and the Nonoalco Tlatelolco Tower. It was built in the very early ’60s, at the time the second tallest skyscraper, and built well – it has withstood three major earthquakes measuring over 7 on the Richter scale, and one measuring 8.1 – that, of course, being 1985.

But today it stands desolate and abandoned. I went for a stroll around it, and the signs of neglect and rampant graffiti abuse, from the inside are obvious. I did read somewhere sometime ago that there are plans to redevelop it and return it to it’s former glory. I hope so. It’d be nice to hear a tune from the giant carillon at the top, with the 5 ton Hidalgo bell sending it’s boom across the city Big Ben style.

But I saw little going on to suggest any major works are imminent. There did seem to be someone a few floors up using a blow torch. And two workmen rolled a pair of barrels up to a door and inside. I was tempted to go in after them and explore. There must be some awesome photo opportunities in there. Maybe another time. Does anyone know who owns this building and what might happen to it? Photo? Click here. They are mixed in with a few of the Monument of the Revolution.


6 thoughts on “Towering Desolation

  1. Kim G says:

    I’ve long wondered what that building was and why it was abandoned. I’ve asked several taxi drivers on my way from the airport, but none have known what it was.

    Fascinating building. I’m sorry you didn’t sneak inside.

    Thanks for at least alleviating some of the mystery.


    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where we have few, if any, abandoned buildings.


  2. Obet says:

    For long time claimed to be the safest building on the city.

    I’m not sure but i think it was repared and ready for someone to want rent it, apparently nobody wants, the neighborhood doesn’t help …I think is an ugly and sad building, maybe it would return to life if it was painted in green, pink or some bright color.


    • I’d read about repairs, but if they’ve already been carried out, well it needs to be done again!

      I think the paint it bright colours idea is a great thought! It already has a large pre Hispanic symbol splashed on one side of it – you can see it in the left hand photo above. I don’t know what it is though. But still, the concept of it bearing bright imaginative artwork on the exterior was part of its creation.

      Time to expand on that idea. Perhaps something really funky. I saw a video (part 1, part 2, part 3) of Julian Beever working on the Zocalo on someone’s blog recently. Something like that would be awesome, if it can be made to work on the side of a pyramid like building!


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