Mr. Carlos Slim inaugurated the first phase of the construction of the Plaza Mariana, an architectural project aimed at enlarging the atrium of the Basilica of Guadalupe, while at the same time modernizing the surrounding urban infrastructure.December 9, 2010.  Mexico City

The ceremony marking the beginning of the first phase of the construction of the Plaza Mariana was presided by the Mayor of Mexico City, Marcelo Ebrard, the Archbishop of Mexico, Norberto Rivera Carrera and Mr. Carlos Slim Helú.

Construction of the Plaza Mariana has been made possible thanks to a donation made by Mr. Slim.  The finalized project will consist of four main buildings, constructed on a surface of 29,535 square meters.  The buildings will house an evangelization center, columbarium, (area with niches), a market, an interactive museum, a parking lot and a health center.

The first phase will start with the construction of the building housing the columbarium and an open-air esplanade to accommodate visitors.  “Since this area of the plaza is the one pilgrims use the most, our aim is to finish it as soon as possible, in approximately 5 months”, stated Mr. Slim during the event.

Plaza Mariana will help to promote Mexico City while serving the approximately 18 million pilgrims that visit the Basilica of Guadalupe each year on average.

The project’s objective is to provide quality space to all visitors, not only during the December festivities in the Basilica de Guadalupe but all year round.  This will turn this religious center into the most visited pilgrimage place in the world.

Mr. Carlos Slim’s speech at Plaza Mariana’s first-step building works

Good morning:
Mr. Marcelo Ebrard, Major of Mexico City,
Your Eminence, Cardinal Norberto Rivera, Archbishop of Mexico,
Mons. Diego Monroy, Dean of Basílica de Guadalupe,
Mr. Víctor Hugo Lobo, Delegate of Gustavo A. Madero,
Friends:

Carlos Slim Foundation, my own family and I are very satisfied and honored by having donated this plaza. As to my knowledge, nine years have elapsed since the building ground was donated. So, we are very pleased in finishing the first-step building works in a relatively short-time period.

In designing this plaza, we thought not only about the 18-20 million pilgrims coming to Basílica de Guadalupe each single year, rather to invigorate the whole surrounding area, like we did in rebuilding Centro Histórico, thanks to support from both city and federal government, civil society and the area’s inhabitants, laborers and businessmen.
Besides harboring pilgrims, Plaza Mariana will bring other benefits.

As Your Eminence Cardinal Norberto Rivera has recalled, we both made the deal in a casual manner, we didn’t shake hands even, just talked on and put hands on work. It was a simple project technically.

Now we have the plaza –the space to be used by pilgrims– done. Yet, it is just the first step. As you can see, it is already finished. Engineers, master builders and masons intensively did work during little more than five months. Of course, Your Eminence gave a mass and encouraged them a lot, while the Dean of Basílica de Guadalupe was permanently close to them, so helping to have the job done.

Plaza Mariana is composed by four buildings: this one, which is the pilgrim plaza; underneath two niches floors are located; the Evangelization Center, being located among the columns you see over there; and –very important– the market place backwards to accommodate more than one thousand commercial stands. The market place will clear the surrounding streets now overcrowded by stands, so the authority will save a huge annual spending. The building behind me is designed to be a Sacred Art Museum or Museo Guadalupano. As Your Eminence has said, it will be an avant-garde museum. The highest floor will lodge a health center, Clínica de la Villa de Guadalupe, being equipped to make for-free surgery, mainly ophthalmological and orthopedic operations for pilgrims and surrounding inhabitants as well.

So, this is the work. As you can see, there are four separate buildings and a cross distributing them and signaling the traffic routes. Here is the architect in charge; he has made a beautiful work; I don’t mention him because he is a family member. Here is also engineer Daniel Ruiz, my university teacher in 1959, and his son, who is working here also. Carso Construction Company has been very active.

I would like to thank Your Eminence Monsignor Monroy and steady contact with Basílica de Guadalupe priesthood. I would also thank, of course, both city and delegation governments because of their enthusiastic support for this work and improvement of the surrounding area with services for pilgrims and inhabitants.

Thanks.               

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