Rafael Viñoly’s Final Reveal: Timber-Built Médano El Pinar Stuns!

The late architect's final design honours a 40-year legacy in global design.

Wed 13 Mar 24


Legendary architect the late Rafael Viñoly, best known for designing 432 Park Avenue in New York and the London-based Walkie Talkie in London, is behind the mass timber inspired Médano El Pinar, a Uruguayan apartment complex including 120 super luxury beachfront residences. 

Recognised as Mr Viñoly’s “final design” – who passed away, aged 78, in March last year – the project is “an innovative, ultra-sustainable, luxury, multi-family residential development,” according to the New York City-based studio Rafael Viñoly Architects, which Mr Viñoly’s son now manages.

Significantly, it will be constructed from a locally sourced mass timber structure, becoming Uruguay’s first “nearly Zero-Energy Building,” and will use solar panels, rainwater capture, a green roof and cross ventilation.

The mass timber design will feature glazed facades and private terraces and will be located just outside Montevideo on a luxurious beachfront. (Photo Credit: Renders supplied by Rafael Viñoly Architects)

“The building’s long, low-slung, and sinewy shape integrates it with the organic landscape of its setting to minimise its visual impact on the neighbourhood and make it completely invisible from the public beach.”

In addition, “generously proportioned interiors open to large elevated private gardens with panoramic views, creating a sense of ‘conscious luxury’,” with interior renderings showing double-height living spaces with wood beams distributed throughout and capped by a wood-slated ceiling.

The design is part of a growing push towards mass timber across Latin America. Last year, Wood Central reported that mass timber is growing across ArgentinaBrazil, and now Uruguay, aiming to become the leader in cross-laminated timber across South America.

The new US $100m Acon Timber Group in Argentina has a processing capacity of 500,000 cub m of sawlogs a year. (Photo Credit: Acon Timber)
South America is in the midst of a timber boom, with Wood Central revealing that Acon Timber Group in has invested US $100m into Argentina to process 500,000 cubic metres of sawlog every year. (Photo Credit: Acon Timber)

Already, Uruguayan businesses are working with US interests to establish mills in Montevideo. In 2022, they opened a new mill with a production capacity of 50,000 cubic metres per year, and they aim to grow more production facilities to service the wider region.

Last year, Rafael Viñoly’s son, Román Viñoly, spoke to Dezeen after his passing, explaining how he and the studio’s staff, some of whom have been working with his father for 40 years, now feel responsible for extending his legacy.

“There is a feeling of responsibility that everyone here shares, and we are all perfectly aligned on it,” says Román Viñoly, who looks around at the skyscrapers his legendary father created.

The legendary architect passed away in March last year – footage courtesy if @ArirangCoKrArirangNEWS.

Rafael Viñoly was responsible for hundreds of buildings worldwide, and Román Viñoly added that “not everyone can walk around and see the work of their loved one all over the city and all over the world.”

“Strangely, my favourite is a building for a pharmaceutical company,” he said, adding, “It’s the building that most closely resembles the core high concept that generated its design and planning approach.”


  • Wood Central

    Wood Central is Australia’s first and only dedicated platform covering wood-based media across all digital platforms. Our vision is to develop an integrated platform for media, events, education, and products that connect, inform, and inspire the people and organisations who work in and promote forestry, timber, and fibre.


Related Articles