Changes + Exchanges

By: Ezra Lipton

My time in Los Cabos, Mexico is coming to an end in the next few days, and so both introspectively and in conversation, I have come to think about things I am going to miss, things I have learned, and how it will feel being back in Canada. Six months is a fascinatingly long, but short time. I remember my first few weeks here, I was open-eyed and bent on absorbing every moment. This curiosity slowed down as I got comfortable, and found routine. Comfort and routine had to be challenged and adjusted periodically, to keep things fresh. I made challenges for myself, in little side projects, taking on a second project, and learning to paint.

I am happy to report that I feel as though my time here has been a success. I had a chance to share and summarize my projects and experience here, to the office today. Co-intern Alec and I have completed our collaborative project. We created concepts of mixed use developments on vacant land in downtown Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, and investigated their financial viability. We recommended a variety of programming for the on-site public space, to provide amenity to the hypothetical residents, and the people living in surrounding areas as well.

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Part of our document highlighting elements of our concept design

My other project also addresses the need for dense development through developing a strategy for the creation of secondary suites. Secondary suites are apartments that are created in, or on top of already existing houses. There is a large opportunity for them, as 75% of buildings in Los Cabos only have one floor. To promote their creation, I started making a guide to give to homeowners explaining the concept, the process, and the benefits. IMPLAN has been very supportive of this strategy, and are looking to create incentives to encourage their construction, and will be including the strategy in the update of their development plan.

During my time here, I have noticed many small changes, including new sidewalks in a local area. I’ll have to update my photo collection that  I wrote about before. This city is changing rapidly, as the tourism industry continues to expand. I was very pleased to see that the local government has committed to building a first phase of IMPLAN’s Proyecto Integral Constituyentes (PIC), a greenspace corridor running Cabo San Lucas. I am thankful for having the opportunity to learn, experience, and contribute to this place. IMPLAN has a very important role to play in the sustainable development of Los Cabos.

In my presentation to the office, I shared what I have learned while being here. I have learned the importance of asking questions, and being curious. I found that asking about what seemed like a simple thing, would often become an opportunity for discussion, or to learn more about the context and history of Los Cabos. Learning has taken place through experiences in and out of the office. I’ve discovered a new patience and an appreciation for the subtlety of colour through my painting classes.

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My first painting!

The opportunity for exchange has been the most valuable. Learning about Mexican culture, history, politics, and perspectives has been interesting, but also, learning about day to day things, how their systems work. Horacio, the director of IMPLAN, spoke after my presentation about how powerful the exchange of ideas and culture has been with this experience, pointing to strategies like secondary suites and CPTED (Crime Prevention through Environmental Design) that we brought to the office. I’ve loved sharing bits and pieces of Canadian culture, like music, art, and movies, and food, with people I met here. I think that I may have convinced at least one or two to take a trip north.

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