BUILDING A NEW ERA
After 45 years of global success, GVA was rebuilt to become in GOMEZ VAZQUEZ INTERNATIONAL
Starting his career as an architect early on, José Manuel Gómez Vázquez Aldana was still a student when he began developing projects that were the seeds for his future firm. Founding GVA in the 60’s, he invited his brothers, Jaime and Ernesto Escobar to join the team. "I was very lucky, because when I started to practice architecture professionally, not yet a graduate, there were only six architects in Guadalajara: Diaz Morales, Julio de la Peña, Eric Couffal, Silvio Alberti, Bruno Cadore and Horst Hartung", he recalls. In 1968, he was invited by the Eisenhower Exchange Fellowship in the United States to participate as an intern representing Mexico; "Which I accepted and attended as a privilege, leaving my brother Jaime as head of the office; I only visited every 5 weeks. There, I met the most prominent architects of that era such as Mies van der Rohe, Walter Gropius, IM Pei and Minoru Yamasaki. This last architect was working on the physical models of the Twin Towers, and that’s when I learned about how they developed large firms."
"They were always firms, a team, it was never one person, (...) so I went back at that time and started the firm Gomez Vazquez Aldana and Associates, to which I invited my brother Jaime."
Some of GVA’s most relevant projects at that time were the Hotel Tapatio, the expansion of the Jalisco Stadium invited by Felipe Arregui, the Plaza de Toros (Bull Ring), and Los Tules (Condominiums) in Puerto Vallarta. However, it was not until Mexico’s Hospitality Director, Juan Burgos, invited José Manuel to work in Acapulco and Cancun for the first Fiesta Americana on the beach that the firm left the state of Jalisco. "The first time that we worked outside of Mexico was with Posadas de Mexico, who introduced me to Velutini of Venezuela, and I went to do a project there with Luis Emilio Velutini and his brother, where I also worked with the Laplana Brothers." Thus began the expansion of the firm.
The firm continued to evolve when Juan Carlos Gómez Castellanos, son of José Manuel, joined José Manuel Jr., the head of the real estate development sector, at the firm. After gaining experience abroad years later, Juan Carlos took over as General Director on the recommendation of Jaime, José Manuel’s brother. A key factor in Juan Carlos’s promotion was his experience in London at RTKL, one of the most important architectural firms in the world, which later teamed up with GVA as part of the Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). "Juan Carlos brought an innovative vision to the firm and maintained his role as General Director for 12 years. I have to say that he was the key to the globalization of the firm, qualifying it today within the 100 most important architectural firms in the world according to England’s World Architecture News Magazine, as well as the number one Latin American firm."
From Jalisco to the World
Like a domino effect, the design of one hotel led to another, adding over 250 resort projects to GVA’s resume and effectively conquering the Latin American Market, which had previously been ignored by large American firms. "The market became more sophisticated and Latin American destinations turned into Grand Tourism or Five Diamonds Resorts, marinas, boutique and all-inclusive hotels, sought out by major hotel chains because of their Latin flavor and the tropical, paradise-like ambience," describes Juan Carlos. "We have infiltrated these markets successfully because we have been designing within the actual environment, with the people" we are familiar with the areas, in fact, we pretend that we’re locals because it gives us an enriched perspective on design. GVA’s success has also been strengthened by integrating firms—there are several different companies with unique functions that belong to the design group and cover all of the needs required by each project from start to finish.
This approach brought into existence Architectural Interiors, directed by Marisabel Gómez Castellanos; Casas de Mexico, which only focuses on residences with dedicated teams specializing in landscaping and signage. "You can create a ‘one-stop shop’ of integrated service that appeals to customers and takes away their headaches by being well-coordinated and facilitating projects for our clients," emphasizes the real estate developer GVA Des directed by José Manuel Gómez Castellanos.
The presence of the firm in various regions including Panama, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, among others, became imperative to its revitalization. Subsequently, in 2013 the firm decided to do some restructuring, the product of which was Gómez Vázquez International.
José Manuel and Jaime went their separate ways, while three new partners joined the firm, creating a solid, exceptional team. "We’re going forward with the vision of achieving success as a firm in accordance with the needs characterized by a changing world and globalization. As such, we decided to restructure and redefine the basis on which I founded the GVA group," explains José Manuel. "We also needed to incorporate new partners and associates, because while we possess the experience and ability, our young designers have an innovative vision, and so we’ve created a powerful combination with the support of GVA group, now called Gomez Vazquez International. We have created a partnership with José Manuel Gómez Vázquez Aldana, Juan Carlos and José Manuel Gómez Castellanos, Juan Pablo Vazquez, Alvaro Gonzalez Guerra and Sergio Riestra as directors of areas in Mexico City, the U.S. and Panama, respectively. "What do we want? The highest quality in our designs and outstanding customer service—these are the primary components that we are focusing on. This has led us to this separation process throughout which we are convinced that the search for quality designs and personalized customer service will help us reach these new frontiers," concludes Juan Carlos.