Cal Poly has several visitors from Mexico this week, hoping to learn a little bit about the university’s students and even more about American architecture. Four architecture students and three faculty members from Benemerita Universidad Autonoma de Puebla in Puebla, Mexico are participating in activities on and off campus as part of an exchange program with Cal Poly’s architecture department.

“Integration is a very good thing. When students propose projects in a different places, it’s possible to take different aspects from that place,” said Blanca Amaro Sanchez, an architecture faculty member visiting from Benemerita Universidad Autonoma de Puebla.

Benemerita Universidad Autonoma de Puebla is a state university much like Cal Poly, specializing in polytechnic majors. The exchange program began in 2003 when a group of Cal Poly architecture students and faculty traveled to Puebla and spent an entire quarter studying there.

“Our focus was on housing and sustainable community building. It’s a very special city,” said Brian Kesner, the architecture professor who has helped build the program for the past few years and planned the programming for visiting students from Puebla.

The students arrived in San Luis Obispo on Sunday, Oct. 15 by bus from San Francisco and met with Cal Poly faculty the next day to participate in a solar decathlon and take a campus tour. Later that afternoon they met in Berg Gallery in the Architecture Building, to attend an exhibit of thesis posters created by Cal Poly architecture students and meet with them.

On Tuesday, Oct. 17 the group met with Jeff Hook, senior planner of SLO City Planning for a discussion on, “Current Issues and Planning Methods for a Growing USA City in the 21st Century.” The day concluded with a walking tour of historic restorations and new construction in downtown San Luis Obispo, an hour of sketching and talking with history professor Chuck Crotser, and free time for the students and faculty to shop downtown.

Wednesday’s activities included special presentations of design research posters from the visiting Puebla students of professor Blanca Amaro Sanchez, followed by social hour. Students and faculty concluded their day with a visit to the Botanical Garden in El Chorro Regional Park with professor Kesner’s studio class, and a dinner at the Architecture Department Head Henri de Hahn’s home.

The visitors from Puebla had a free day on Thursday, Oct. 19, followed with a 4 p.m. presentation in Berg Gallery by Fernando Romero, an architect, writer and theorist from Mexico City known for his work on architectural translation in contemporary society. The day will end with a trip to Farmers’ Market in downtown San Luis Obispo.

On Friday, Oct. 20, Puebla students and faculty plan to attend short presentations by four international scholars called, “Urban Spaces Symposium: Mexico, Brazil, Japan, USA.” The event is hosted by Cal Poly’s City and Regional Planning Department and will take place in Berg Gallery at 2 p.m.

Later Friday afternoon, students and faculty will attend their final activity, a presentation by Manuel DeLanda, adjunct associate professor at Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation of Columbia University. The group is scheduled to begin their trip back to Puebla, Mexico on Saturday, Oct. 21.

A group of fourth year Cal Poly architecture students and Kesner are scheduled to spend winter quarter 2007 studying at Benemerita Universidad Autonoma de Puebla. They will be traveling to different cities in Mexico to study the architecture.

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