Romero, who apprenticed under Pritzker Prize winner and urbanist Rem Koolhaas, was the architect behind Slim’s Soumaya art museum, a gleaming, aluminum-plated structure that’s become a popular stop for tourists in Mexico City. Foster’s litany of projects include London’s Gherkin skyscraper and New York’s Hearst Tower.
While Slim owns construction companies, Romero’s bid is independent from any of the telecommunications tycoon’s businesses, said the billionaire’s spokesman, Arturo Elias, in a phone interview. The potential airport project, which the government is still studying, is “one of the most necessary infrastructure projects” because of congestion at the current airport, Communications and Transportation Minister Gerardo Ruiz Esparza said last week.
A new airport project will require about 120 billion pesos ($9.3 billion) in public and private funds, he said. The government has yet to determine whether to proceed with the plan and hasn’t formally solicited bids.
Mexican newspaper Milenio reported last week that Slim hired Foster to present a proposal about a month ago to the transportation agency and to close advisers of President Enrique Pena Nieto. Architects’ Journal reported last month that Foster & Partners was on a shortlist with six other candidates to design the airport, including Zaha Hadid Architects and Rogers Stirk Harbour & Partners.
Romero’s bid “has absolutely nothing to do with who will be in charge to build it,” Elias said. A press representative for Romero’s firm declined to comment.
Slim’s construction-management company “has always been interested in promoting and building necessary infrastructure that creates jobs,” Elias said. The company, Impulsora del Desarrollo y el Empleo en America Latina SAB, or Ideal, has projects that include highways in the Mexico City area and a wastewater treatment plant for the capital.
A separate Slim-owned company, Grupo Carso SAB, has a construction unit that participates in projects managed by Ideal and by others. Grupo Carso was part of a consortium that built a Mexico City subway line that was partially closed two months ago due to twisted rails and damaged ties, less than two years after opening. Carso and partners Empresas ICA SAB and Alstom SA have said they complied with the terms of the contract and aren’t responsible for the service outage.