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How Would Enrique Norten Spend $100,000?

The Mexican architect is a contender to design a Guggenheim in Guadalajara, and he has two major New York projects in the works: the Harlem Park tower on 125th Street and a Brooklyn Public Library branch near BAM. We asked him how he’d spend the price of 100 study models for the library.

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I like to be close to infrastructure. My office is in the Flatiron, but I live in Murray Hill. You can get anywhere from there, and I’m always traveling. I’m in Mexico City every two weeks, so I’d buy business-class tickets on AeroMexico ($1,179). I’ve come to enjoy sitting on a plane. I read. I do my e-mails. Nobody calls. I take all my magazines for the week. I love Domus. The American trades—Architectural Record, Architecture—are very bad, but I have to read them.

I could use a full set of Mandarina Duck luggage in black ($2,410). The laptop case ($285) is like a pillow of very soft material. I love the way it looks. And my kids think I’m not looking cool enough.

I teach at U. Penn in Philadelphia, and my wife, our 9-year-old son, and our 11-year-old daughter still live there. We just bought a new house. We’ve lived in several houses that I’ve built, but this one is 100 years old. It’s just a box made of stone. I’d like to buy a Cappellini sofa in apple green ($4,150). Everything else in the room will be white. I try not to put stuff on the walls. To me, the color comes from the people, the flowers, the objects. I like white walls and white sheets (Frette 500 thread count, $1,700). I cannot sleep in sheets that are patterned.


Neither of us cook, but I want a Boffi kitchen ($80,000). It’s one big piece in the center, a very long island. Everything is just . . . clean. Stainless steel and white. I love the way kitchens look. They’re somewhere between being a laboratory and being part of the house. I also love Herman Miller. There’s a small wooden chair that I’d get in red (Eames LCW chair, $680) at the MoMA store and also a high-backed leather one (Eames lounge chair, $3,350).

I play music all the time. Salsa. Cumbia. I saw this Bose stereo (Acoustic Wave, $1,079). Basically, it’s just a piece of nothing! It’s so minimal. I’d love some Tito Puente, Juanes, and Celia Cruz CDs ($125.85). If I’m working, I listen to classical. I always have my Moleskine sketchbooks with me. They’re exactly the size of your pocket. When I see them, I buy 30 ($263.73). There’s only one kind of pencil I use: Caran d’Ache Fixpencil 22 at Pearl Paint ($12). I use rolls of yellow tracing paper ($36.45 for three). I put them over plans and make corrections. I never do any of that kind of work on the computer. Right now, we’re working on a competition for the Guggenheim for Guadalajara.


My daughter does not miss Mexico. She has adapted very well. She rides horses—well, actually, a blond pony named George. I’d buy her a new saddle ($3,000). My son misses it more, especially the food. Cafe el Portal on Elizabeth Street is one of our favorite restaurants. I’d take my family to dinner there ($88.97), and for breakfast, I’d take them to El Paso Taqueria ($40) in Harlem. If I’m at the Guggenheim, I always go there for chilaquiles. I’d buy my son an Apple Workstation piano keyboard for his computer ($1,600). He plays Beethoven, but he likes Snoopy Dog. What do you call him? Snoop Dogg. A few weeks ago, I took him to see Snoop Dogg at the Apollo. It was his first concert. For a moment there, I felt a little bit irresponsible.

Reality Check
What He Really Spent Today
Toasted bagel, orange juice, coffee, $3.75

Lunch for four at Artisanal , $128.50

Car service to airport, $53

Round-trip business-class ticket to Mexico City, $1,179

Magazines, gum, water at airport Hudson News, $18.18

Total $1,382.43


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