Mexico’s Angel of Independence to be restored after 19S earthquake

Antonio Díaz
Mexico’s Angel of Independence to be restored after 19S earthquake

Mexico’s Angel of Independence to be restored after 19S earthquake

Antonio Díaz
Mexico City
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The restoration project will focus on the change of an internal metal plate located 19 meters high

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The column of the Angel of Independence Monument was affected by the September 19, 2017 earthquake. 28 months later, experts from the National Autonomous University of Mexico determined that the structural rehabilitation of the monument will first consist of the change of an internal metal plate that is three meters long and that is located 19 meters high.

The change of this piece is expected to be concluded between April and May. Then, the piece classified as an Artistic Monument by the National Institute of Fine Arts and Literature will be subjected to an external restoration process that includes the intervention of the quarry, as well as the removal of the graffiti made on August 16, 2019, during a protest against gender violence in Mexico.

After the protest, the monument was surrounded by a fence. On September 11, in a joint statement, the Mexico City’s Works and Services Minister, and the federal and local Culture ministries informed of the installation of a scaffold to cover it.

The scaffold was designed by the Engineering Institute of the UNAM. Since then, the institution assigned a team of six engineers, coordinated by Roberto Sánchez and Roberto Meli, who have carried out studies both inside and outside the monument for its structural rehabilitation.

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The first studies
The column of the Angel of the Independence Monument is over nearly 4,700 wooden piles that support the 1.8 tonnes of the base, the column, and the sculpture of the Winged Victory.

The monument built between 1908 and 1910 has witnessed several earthquakes in 1957, 1985, and 2017.

Roberto Sánchez describes the column as an “antenna,” that with its cylindric shape has faced problems during the 1957 earthquake, but a year later, engineer Samuel Ruiz installed a “metallic bracing” inside it.

The metal plates have different widths, from 36mm in the lowest part to 9mm in the highest part.

After the 1985 earthquake, the metallic plate had some damage and with the 2017 earthquake, they worsened.

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“In 2006, there was a registry of the metallic plates; now, we have repeated the study and we saw that after the 2017 earthquake there has been cracking and some parts have buckled, that is, there are bulges because the metallic bracing was submitted to high strain; but, in general, the structure of the column is safe,” asserts Sánchez.

The internal damages are located 19.5 meters high, so the experts decided to remove that part of the metallic plate; however, there is still not a date for the conclusion of the works.

“The removal of the plate will be slow, for there is only a space of 1.27 meters of internal diameter, and there is also the interim staircase, so some steps will have to be removed. This work is expected to be concluded between April and May,” says Sánchez.

To do the change of plate, the monument will have a “temporary bracing:” they will install eight braces to prevent damages in the case of earthquakes.

As part of the works, the Monument has also been subject to corrosion studies. Although they have just received the results, the experts point out that “there is light corrosion.”

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The cost
In the outer side of the monument, there are also damages caused by the 2017 earthquake in several points, like in a figure of a lion with garlands located 14 meters high.

Engineers say that they will first focus on the inside and then on the outside for the restoration of the quarry as well as to remove the graffiti.

Mexico City’s Culture Ministry informed that the financing for the project will be in charge of the Works Ministry and the City’s Fund for Reconstruction.

Nevertheless, the institution said that they are expecting a budget of between MXN $10 and $13 million: “In 2019, MXN $5 million were used for the concept of design, installation, and rent of the scaffolding and the performing of scientific studies coordinated by the Engineering Institute. The installation of the scaffolding cost MXN $245,000; the monthly rent (which is paid since September) os of MXN $260,000.”

The agency added that the works for the structural rehabilitation will be concluded “at most in July” and specified that this stage “only includes the structural rehabilitation of the column and will not consider aspects related to the restoration of external architectonic, ornamental, or artistic elements.”

The Works Ministry was requested the budget destined for the removal of the graffiti but there was no answer.

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