Work began today on Bajalta, a new, mixed-use development designed by SHoP architects in Tijuana, Mexico, located less than two miles south of the U.S. border.

The architecture firm is working with the San Diego-based developer Pacifica, private equity fund Artha Capital, branding agency Cadena + Associates Concept Design, and architecture firm Populous for the project, SHoP’s first in Mexico.  

SHoP is responsible for both the master plan and the building designs. Renderings released today depict five geometrically-patterned high-rise towers, one mid-rise tower with a lampshade-like lattice skin, and an interconnected podium housing a cinema, restaurants, and retail stores. The towers will contain a combined office and hotel, as well as residences.

Bajalta (a portmanteau of “baja” and “alta,” for Mexico’s Baja California peninsula and the historical “Alta California” region, parts of which became the present day U.S. state) will leverage existing economic and cultural ties between Tijuana and San Diego, which have a combined population of 5 million residents, and, according to a press release will celebrate “the flow of the exchange between Mexico and the United States.” Bajalta is located in the Tijuana’s zona dorada ("golden zone").

The project is part of a wave of new development in Tijuana, since the once-notorious border city has shaken off a reputation for drug-related violence that peaked in 2010.  

Phase One of Bajalta will be completed in two years, SHoP anticipates.