ECUADOR - Real Estate & Construction
Founder, Principal, & CEO, Uribe Schwarzkopf
Tommy Schwarzkopf was born in 1954 and is an architect by profession. He is the General Manager of Uribe & Schwarzkopf, and also occupies several public positions, including Economic Counselor of the Presidency of the Congress, President of the National Finance Corporation, and Fulbright Foundation Director. In addition, he is the President of the Pichincha Association of Basketball, and President of Quito Sporting Club.
Tommy Schwarzkopf, Founder, Principal, & CEO of Uribe Schwarzkopf, talks to TBY about the Ecuadorian real estate and construction sector.
How do you see the real estate and construction sectors evolving in 2023?
Ecuador is a developing country, and it has taken a long time since the discovery of oil to see the results that we are getting now. Quito and Guayaquil have grown rapidly, with Quito’s population increasing from just over 1 million to 3.5 million in just a year in a half. The influx of immigrants, including some 600,000 Venezuelans, 100,000 Cubans, and 400,000 Colombians, has been positive, though it has also contributed to irregular growth. Without a growth plan, many areas of the city lack access to basic services such as water. We hope the new mayor will develop a plan for the next 20 years at least to address these issues. Uribe Schwarzkopf has been working on projects in the city under these circumstances. With the metro about to start operations, we are planning our projects to be close to metro stations. We have also prioritized innovation in design, bringing in new architects to work and cooperate with us. This has helped us set the standard for design in the city and push other companies to innovate as well.
Uribe Schwarzkopf has been in Ecuador for 50 years now. What factors do you consider when forming partnerships with different architects?
Partnering with different architects allows us to learn and stay up-to-date with innovative architecture trends. We currently have 30-35 architects working with us, and through our partnerships we aim to encourage innovative thinking and deliver better products to our clients. In light of the recent pandemic, many people have been rethinking their living arrangements and seeking more comfortable homes that have all the required amenities. Our buildings such as YOO Quito or YOO Cumbayá were able to able to provide a comfortable and fulfilling living experience for our residents during the pandemic because they had all of the amenities that residents needed.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
We are currently working on a few projects in Quito. One of them is Epiq, which we have been collaborating on with Bjarke Ingels. Another project is Qanvas, which is being designed by local architects. We have also completed IQON and will soon hand over the apartments to the owners. Aquarela, our project in Cumbayá, has been one of the best projects that we have done, with Jean Nouvel as a collaborator. The project has a line of people waiting to rent the apartments because of its stunning views and amenities. We will also soon complete two more projects: Aurora and Botaniqo. In Guayaquil, we have nearly sold out our project, The Hills, which we designed with MVRDV from Amsterdam. We also have two more projects in the pipeline there. Our projects stand out because of their unique designs. For example, IQON and Qorner, which were designed by Safdie, features structures that are extremely different from the typical concrete structures built before. IQON’s structure is fully concrete without any paint or contaminating materials. The building is being inspected by the World Bank to be certified as an EDGE project in order to qualify for financing with lower interest rates. The building also has plant pots on every balcony that will prevent water wastage and cover the structure completely in plants in a few years. Qorner Tower, designed by Safdie Architects, is a small project but is extremely special in terms of its structure. It is the first time this structure was created in Ecuador.
How would you evaluate your presence in Guayaquil?
Our presence in Guayaquil is excellent. Despite not having worked there for a long time, we are still recognized as a top company. We carried out a thorough market research study, and when we started selling The Hills, 90% of the project was sold in just two months. We have incorporated a restaurant called Circa at the top of the apartments there, which is also something we did with Aquarela.
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