Exkema Magazine – University of El Rosario – No. 33 / 2016

Volume 6, Year 8, No. 33
RESTORATION pp. 48 – 49 – 50 – 51

The Past, Past, Present, and Future of a National Monument

Restoration of the University of El Rosario’s Jockey Building


This project is characterized by two important factors within the country’s socio-cultural context:
One is the relocation of the Jurisprudence Faculty offices of the University of El Rosario, a faculty that is characterized by being one of the oldest and most important in the country, from which thirty-five presidents of the nation have graduated. The other no less important factor is the Faculty’s new headquarters, located downtown, in the Jockey Club Building. This elegant, Republican-style building, built in 1939 by architect Gabriel Serrano, was declared national monument and is known for being the most prestigious social center nationwide, where great socio-political moments took place.
Given these historical and architectural determinants, the design became a great challenge since the objective was to create new spaces, in accordance with the demand and connectivity of modern spaces, bearing in mind the professional and personal growth of its users and respecting and highlighting the magnificence of its pre-existing architecture, where a spirit of equality is to prevail.
Tradition and respect for the institutions and their ideals blend with the new features of a spatial design that always looks toward modernity: Sobriety / Elegance / Sophistication.
Every object, each color, are the result of an intent that seeks to adhere to the university’s motto and to implicitly reflect its identity:

“Always old, always new”
“Since its foundation, the University of El Rosario was conceived as a university ‘of’ and ‘for’ its students.” The space must reflect this concept, providing its students, faculty, alumni, and staff members with contemporary spaces that may transmit the institution’s precepts and are fully coherent with sense of equanimity.
The design of the Interior Space, in alignment with the University’s principles – “Tolerance / Respect for the ideas of others / Responsible academic freedom” – created spaces where these three concepts were applied, spaces such as the collaborative areas, where meetings and/or consulting sessions between professors and students are amiable and break away from the traditional position barriers, seeing the other as a person in equal conditions, thus managing to improve communication and intellectual exchange.
There are also private spaces that guarantee the user’s concentration; spaces that provide the privacy that most faculty professors need when engaging in research activities. The spaces are well-lit, acoustic, and cool, thanks to the various technical studies carried out and to the furniture arrangement and the colors selected.
The first floor was devoted entirely to a social area, with suitable spaces for multiple activities and the possibility of conducting different types of gatherings.
The design and colors of the first floor’s carpet were selected bearing in mind the Calatrava Cross, which is featured in the University’s coat of arms. The geometrical play that it displays gives the place a modern and timeless look while also incorporating an implicit brand presence into the design.
The furniture evokes the past, the present, and the future through the combination of styles, with textures and colors that enhance the beauty of the place. The first thing that visitors encounter is the reception unit, which, with the avant-garde movement of its shapes, greets them and invites them to enter.
The lamps evoke both a past splendor and the state-of-the-art design of the present. A large part of the lighting appliances was imported from Belgium and the decorative lamps of the entrance and the central hall, which were manufactured in Holland, are reminiscent of the original lamps (crystal chandeliers), all while displaying a futuristic and harmonious combination of crystal and metal.
The railings installed in the reception, the auditory, and the great hall on the third floor, aside from brightening up the work space, sheds light along the ceiling, highlighting the existing Ramelli plasterwork. The lighting design focused on underscoring the architectural details and giving the place a functional quality without affecting the building’s romantic atmosphere.
The brand is part of a graphic script that contains the information of the University’s Heritage Archive. It is a thorough selection of images that tell the history of the University, the Faculty, and the sector of La Candelaria. Each space has a specific theme that is portrayed through images and the central hall became an exhibit hall with the purpose of providing the El Rosario Community with a window to an ever-changing art.
The private area of the Faculty is located on floors 2 and 3, which are divided by zones devoted to administrative areas, faculty offices, the Dean’s Office, areas of support, and collaborative spaces.
The project maintained the building’s large-scale proportion, taking advantage of the libraries and volumes in glass that were centrally located in order to exhibit and respect the original architecture. The selection of each element was made always bearing in mind the scale of the place.
Given that it is a heritage building, the entire intervention was carried out under the supervision of a restoration and heritage specialist and conducted in such a manner that the interior design did not affect the original architecture, notwithstanding the modernization of the electric system that was installed.
The building was drastically transformed due to the change of color in walls and woodwork; it became brighter and underwent a rebirth by changing its English, sober, and classic appearance that denoted elegance in former times. However, the original colors may be recovered whenever desired thanks to the special treatment applied to the wood prior to the intervention.
The result: A bet on innovation in search for a distinct identity; an avant-garde and timeless project.


    • Name: Universidad del Rosario – Faculty of Jurisprudence
    • Area: 2.500 M2
    • Design and Construction: Rodrigo Samper & Cia
    • General Manager: Rodrigo Samper Samper
    • Project Manager and Design Director: Arch. Alexandra Rozo
    • Designers: Arch. Luis Carlos Lozano, Arch. Camilo Plata
    • Collaborators: Ricardo Ayala, Jorge Portilla
    • Worksite Resident Architect: Arch. Mauricio Narváez
    • Budget Control: Arch. Diana Alférez
    • Texts: Arch. Alexandra Rozo
    • Photography: Andrés Valbuena, Luis Fernando Ramos


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