Wednesday, May 12, 2010

"Pablo Is Gone" Documentary in Medellin

Director Paola Perez will present a free screening of her new documentary "Pablo Is Gone" in Medellin's Santo Domingo barrio.

The film was produced with the help of many of the local children who live in some of poorest areas in Medellin where the movie was made.

Event: Special Screening of "Pablo Is Gone."
Date: May 14
Time: 10:00 am
Where: Santo Domingo Savio - Auditorio Parque Biblioteca Espana
Contact: 385 75 99

"Pablo Is Gone" official trailer

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Medellín's Architectural Renaissance

Young designers, encouraged by forward-thinking leaders, have created notable works in some of the city's poorest areas.

By Christopher Hawthorne, Los Angeles Times Architecture Critic

Over the last two or three years, a steady buzz has been building in architecture and design circles about developments in this city of 3.5 million, which through much of the 1980s and 1990s was infamous for its sky-high crime rate and viciously competitive narco cartels, including a particularly violent one led by Pablo Escobar.

Architects and urban planners who traveled to Medellín seemed to return telling some version of the same enthusiastic story about the renaissance taking place in Colombia's second-largest city, which has been driven in large part by investment in ambitious civic architecture.

After spending nearly a week in the city in late March, I'm happy to say I've joined the ranks of the Medellín evangelists. The city's commitment to public architecture, spearheaded by former mayor Sergio Fajardo, has — as advertised — produced a number of exquisitely designed libraries, schools and parks. Rising in some of Medellín's roughest neighborhoods, these projects are the capstones of a broader civic rebirth that has seen murder rates tumble nearly 90% from their highs of the early 1990s. Even the tourism business here has begun to make a fragile recovery.

It quickly became clear during my visit what contemporary architecture has meant for Medellín — for its civic identity, in particular, as well as for its long-battered international reputation. And yet the more of the city I was able to see, the more it struck me that an equally important set of lessons might be found by reversing that equation, by exploring what Medellín and its revival mean for contemporary architecture.

The architecture profession finds itself sharply divided these days into two camps, one concerned with experimental, often digitally driven design and the other primarily committed to social and environmental activism. The high-design architects sniff that the humanitarians are terrible designers, or at least unimaginative ones, while the humanitarians complain that the high-design architects are trapped in a hermetic onscreen world with little concern for the fate of overcrowded slums or a degraded planet.

Medellín is one of the few cities where these two very different sets of priorities have come seamlessly together — where buildings meant to uplift poor neighborhoods and offer residents a new range of social services are also strikingly inventive as works of architecture. In that sense its hard-won improvements are meaningful not just for its own residents but for architects and planners elsewhere, even if they never have the chance to set foot in Medellín.

The city's revival has its roots in the unorthodox approach of Fajardo, an energetic, charismatic former math professor who was elected mayor in 2003 despite a thin political resume. Not long after taking office, he and Alejandro Echeverri, the mayor's director of urban projects and an architect in his own right, pinpointed several districts in Medellín they thought would benefit from inventive and public-minded architecture. They were inspired, they've since said, by the way certain Barcelona neighborhoods were revived in advance of the 1992 Summer Olympics, as well some positive examples from Brazilian cities.

Their nascent efforts were aided by anti-corruption laws passed at the national level by the government of President Alvaro Uribe, including provisions requiring design competitions for nearly all sizable new public buildings.

Because the budgets for city projects in Medellín tend to be quite low by international standards, these competitions have drawn mostly Colombian architects, along with a handful from nearby Latin American countries. That fact alone is responsible for one of most unusual elements of the Medellín renaissance: In an age of globe-trotting celebrity architects, it has been propelled almost entirely by local firms. The city's new image has been sketched not by Zaha Hadid or Richard Meier but by small offices based in Medellín or the Colombian capital, Bogotá.

Under Fajardo's successor as mayor, Alonso Salazar, the city has continued to produce ambitious new architecture, including extensive new facilities for the South American Games, which were held in Medellín in March. A notable number of recent design-competition winners have been firms run by young architects; the impressive swimming complex for the Games, for example, was designed by a firm called Paisajes Emergentes, or Emerging Landscapes, whose founders are still in their 20s. Ctrl G, a local firm that in conjunction with Peruvian office 51-1 Architects recently won a competition for an eye-catching addition to the Medellín Museum of Modern Art, is run by a pair of female architects, Viviana Peña and Catalina Patiño, who also have yet to turn 30.

Perhaps most striking of all, Medellín's new landmarks have largely been built in the city's most violent and downtrodden neighborhoods, reflecting one of Fajardo's simplest — and most provocative — policy goals.

"Our most beautiful buildings," he liked to say, "must be in our poorest areas."

The best known among those projects is probably the Parque Biblioteca España, or Spanish Park and Library. Designed by the Bogotá-based architect Giancarlo Mazzanti, it is perched atop a crowded hillside neighborhood called Santo Domingo, which was particularly hard hit by the violence of the 1980s and '90s. Made up of three chiseled, rock-like forms sheathed in black slate, the library is one of a half-dozen complexes initiated by Fajardo's administration that combine new libraries with substantial park space.

Another remarkable achievement is the open-air Orquideorama, or orchid center, which sits inside Medellín's Botanical Garden and was designed by Plan B Architects, which is led by 34-year-old architect Felipe Mesa, and the firm JPRCR. It creates a large, shaded plaza under a spreading, wood-lattice canopy and also includes a handful of small, spare buildings for the botanical garden staff. Rainwater collected atop the canopy is funneled down through each of the design's trunk-like forms to sustain small gardens on the ground.

Plan B also won a competition for the centerpiece of the South American Games, a connected series of gymnasiums beneath a roof made of undulating green panels.

These new landmarks are not isolated works of architecture. In many cases they were built in conjunction with new roads, schools and transit lines — and as a physical extension of social programs meant to draw families once terrified by violence in their neighborhoods back out into public life. Fajardo — who is now running for the vice-presidency of Colombia, with national voting set for May 30 — has called the approach "social urbanism."

Some of the poorest and most remote areas in Medellín, where public buses have trouble navigating narrow dirt streets, are now served by a pair of so-called metro-cable lines — essentially, an urban version of the gondola systems in operation at many ski resorts — that carry residents to and from the city's main light-rail line. It is incongruous, to say the least, to see the metro-cable's suspended gondolas, which we tend to associate with alpine scenes and high-priced lift tickets, gliding just a few feet over the handmade houses that cling to many of Medellín's steepest hillsides.

Medellín's new architecture has hardly been a cure-all. The poverty in the city's toughest neighborhoods remains extreme, and in recent months there has been a disturbing uptick in violence — so much so that some of the Medellín architects I met expressed concern about taking me to visit their projects in rougher areas, even during the day.

Still, by nearly all accounts, the libraries and other new public buildings remain popular and well-used by local residents. And for designers, critics and curators outside of Colombia, the Medellín story — and what that story says in a larger sense about shifting priorities in the architecture profession — continues to be an inspiration. Fajardo and Echeverri were winners last year of the Curry Stone Design Prize, a new award based at the University of Kentucky that seeks to recognize architects and policymakers "who harness their ingenuity and craft for social good."

When the National Design Triennial opens later this week at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York, it will include a pair of projects from Medellín: Plan B's Orquideorama and a science museum designed by Echeverri. The designs were selected for the exhibition by Matilda McQuaid, Cooper-Hewitt's deputy curatorial director, who traveled to Colombia last year. Medellín, she told me, "is a model of how a city can be transformed when architecture and social policy work in tandem."

In October, the Museum of Modern Art in New York will open an ambitious exhibition on similar themes called "Small Scale, Big Change: New Architectures of Social Engagement," which collects a number of recent examples of humanitarian design from around the world.

Medellín, in the end, is more than an isolated urban success story or an example of a city that has managed to bridge contemporary architecture's great divide. It also offers a timely model for Los Angeles and other cities that have long turned almost exclusively to New York and Europe for ideas about how architecture ought to look — and how cities ought to operate.

Just as Gustavo Dudamel, the 29-year-old Venezuelan conductor, has brought fresh energy and a new sense of social commitment to the Los Angeles Philharmonic, so Medellín and other successful examples of Latin American city-making have a role to play in helping Los Angeles reimagine its future.

For American cities and their leaders, what Medellín symbolizes most clearly of all is what we stand to gain by looking south as well as east — and to poor countries, when it makes sense, along with wealthy ones — for cultural inspiration.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Medellin Trip Report

Medellin Colombia — After I win the Powerball drawing tonight, I think I might just pack up my belongings and move to Medellin Colombia.

Though the city was being labelled as "the most dangerous place on Earth" just a mere 8 years ago, it's a totally different place today. Thanks to VERY aggressive action by the Colombian government against FARC rebels, narcotrafficking crime organizations, and various paramilitary splinter groups, Colombia has become a FAR safer place for its citizens and for visiting foreigners. Nowhere is that change more apparent than in Medellin.

Today, Medellin life is as tranquil as any good-sized city of 2.5 million inhabitants anywhere else in the world. The arts community is surprisingly strong and there's wonderful nightlife with live music clubs, experimental theatre groups in the city center, large glitzy modern shopping malls for the consumers of the world, and a remarkably clean, modern, quiet Metro system that makes getting around easy and affordable.

Medellin does something with their Metro system that I've never seen done anywhere else in the world --- they incorporate cable cars into the mass transit network. This makes sense, given that the city lies in a valley, with rugged mountain peaks on all side (and with communities up in the hills, and on other sides of the mountains). They call the cable car system "Metrocable" and the cable cars connect seemlessly to the Metro trains (no extra cost either). Metrocable is great for the locals, but tourists love it too because you get wonderful views from up on the cables, plus its one of those things you just can't do anyplace else.

I highly recommend taking a good half day to fully explore the excellent Museo de Antioquia. It's an art museum, and a darn good one, focusing on Medellin's favorite local artist: Fernando Botero. I just LOVE Botero's works because he's got an apparent innocence to his style that belies his ability to cut deeply to the core themes that make human beings human. He's sometimes dismissed as "that artist who paints fat people", but his focus on using fat people helps him avoid the insignificant attention paid to physical appearance while focusing more tightly on actions, emotions, and values --- things that are sometimes harder to do in a purely visual medium. Most of the 4th floor of the museum is dedicated to its collection of Botero works, and there are galleries on the 3rd and 2nd floors with international contemporary artworks (many collected by Botero himself). The first floor has a gift shop and special exhibits --- they're currently doing an exhibit on Spain, which is excellent.

Getting to Medellin is easy. There's 2 airports: MDE is the international airport, located about 30 miles from downtown in the town of Rionegro --- it handles all large jet traffic. The smaller domestic airport, Olaya Herrera (EOH), is just off the main autopista near the upscale Poblado section of town. It's mondo convenient but only handles smaller regional aircraft (lots of turboprops and regional jets).

For nightlife, you have many options. There's small, funky bars downtown where you can hear the most cutting edge music, though tourists will feel more comfortable in places like Parque Lleras, where the streets are chock-a-block full of upscale nightclubs, bars, elegant restaurants, and the HOTTEST women who ever walked the face of this planet. I had no idea there could be one spot on earth with so many women who looked like well-tanned, swimsuit models. Ssssss!

There's several festivals throughout the year. Medellin boasts about its fashion festival and its festival of flowers. During the Christmas season, drive along the road that parallels the Rio Medellin --- the city puts on the most elaborate lights display you can imagine, and the reflections off the water only intensify the effect...stunning! But if you've got a bit of blood lust in you, this time of year could be right up your alley because their Festivo Taurino Macarena is all about classic bull fights, and there's a bull-fight every weekend through at least the end of February. (One of these days, I'm convinced, the bull will win...)

Medellin today is a modern, attractive city with fun things to do and see, a blistering hot nightlife scene. I can't wait to go back!

Nice Place to Visit, but a GREAT Place to Live!

Report By mrkstvns from Austin, TX - USA

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Medellín: Medical Tourism Destination

Medellín: The Spirit of Latin America
By Stephanie Falcone

The Medical Tourism Association hosted a Familiarization Tour to the everlasting place of spring time, Medellín, Colombia December 8th-12th 2009. Nine medical tourism facilitators, insurance companies and agents from the United States, Canada and the Caribbean explored the high quality of the healthcare system, accreditation, warmth and hospitality Medellín has to offer their patients.

Upon our arrival, after only a 3-hour flight from Miami we were immediately welcomed with open arms by representatives of the Medellín Healthcare Cluster. From the moment we stepped outside there was a sense of freedom and relaxation in the air. We came down through the forested locale to a breathtaking opening, where we were met by the astonishing view of the entire city of Medellín, revealing the radiant lights from the hillsides to the mountain tops. As we drove down the light-encrusted mountain it was easy to imagine how one might fall in love with this city.

The familiarization tour was sponsored by the Medellín Healthcare Cluster, organized with the goal of promoting Medellín as a competitive medical tourism destination. The Medellín Healthcare Cluster has set exceptionally high principles for applicants seeking Healthcare Cluster membership. All amenities must go through an intense application process and avowal to go through or apply for the Joint Commission International accreditation within the next two years to be accepted. The Familiarization Tour included visits to some of the top hospitals in Colombia such as: Hospital Universitario San Vicente de Pa l, Hospital General de Medellín, Clínica El Rosario, Centro Odontol g Congregaci n Mariana, Clinica Odontol gica Promta, Hospital Pablo Tob Uribe, Clinica Cardiovascular, and Clinica Oftalmolgica de Antioquia-Colfan. In addition, participants had the opportunity to visit State of the Art air-ambulance company SARPA.

The City of Lights
Colombia is located in South America bordering the Caribbean Sea, between Panama and Venezuela, and bordering the North Pacific Ocean, between Ecuador and Panama. Colombia is the only South American country with coastlines on both the North Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea, and is persistently growing given the on-going development in domestic security since 2002. Medellín is the second largest city in Colombia, and Capital City of the State of Antioquia. With countless tourism activities for visitors, Medellín serves as a popular destination for international travelers. Medellín has breathtaking views of this magnificent city from every angle you may choose to look. During this time of year the city of Medellín hires 2,000 employees to string lights throughout the neighborhoods and countryside giving the city a magical feeling. The city gathers local traditions such as dancers, instrument players and multicolored characters as lights. Medellín created this project to attract international travelers, since most foreigners enjoy seeing unique places, food, and attractions while in another country. These lights are a tribute to the country demonstrating the most significant landscapes and icons from the region. Shortly after, the project was then implemented by other Latin American countries such as: Venezuela, Honduras, and Ecuador. Medellín began the renovation process in 2002, altering the aesthetic appearance of this beautiful city. Medellín is committed to position itself as one of the major players in the Health and Wellness sector of the Medical Tourism Industry. Between the years of 2005 and 2006, the number of foreigners visiting Medellín grew by 33.4%, from approximately 71, 000 to approximately 95,000 visitors, and grew another 20 % half way through 2007.

Local Cuisine
To start, one must sample the baked corn arepas (flat corn pancake) with butter and cheese alongside Colombian coffee. Colombian coffee is the ultimate desired beverage and is said to be the best in the world. Colombian coffee is primarily grown in Medellín, neighboring towns, and more mountainous areas such as Bogotá giving coffee a rich balanced flavor. Next, empanadas are a must have while in Colombia. Empanadas are typically made with shredded chicken, pork, beef, and ground meat but can be found filled with potato and vegetables; served with aji (hot sauce) and lime wedges on the side. In Colombia, empanadas are sold essentially everywhere in the city.

Hospital Universitario San Vicente de Paul
Hospital Universitario San Vincente de Pa l is a non-profit private institution with 96 years of experience and great national and international recognition. Hospital Universitario San Vicente de Pa l offers 648 beds to the public and is a Colombian Leader in healthcare generating health research, specialists in high complexity care, and experienced leadership in transplants. The hospital has alliances with the main universities in Medellín for education and research purposes in the training of doctors, nurses, nutritionists, and social workers, management engineering and social communication schools. Some of the hospital specialties include Cardiovascular and Thoracic Unit, Oncology Unit, Bone Marrow Transplants and Orthopedics.

Oral Home
Oral Home is a 24/7 dental clinic catering to emergency cases and general services to the community. Oral Home is not only a dental clinic, but has integrated the wellness sector even into their basic services. Oral Home has a 24/7 emergency mobile service which assists many international patients in comfort and satisfaction. Oral Home is equipped with the most advanced technology providing excellent results.

Hospital General de Medellín
Hospital General de Medellín is the only public hospital in the entire Medellín Healthcare cluster. Hospital General de Medellín is equipped with 423 beds, which provides intermediate and adult critical care and pediatrics services. Among its many achievements Hospital General de Medellín has become the first public hospital of third level to achieve National Accreditation (accredited by ISQUA) by the Social Protection Ministry of Colombia. Hospital General Medellín was also ranked in the 20 best hospital and clinics of Latin-America, ranked by America Econmicas, and is also participating in the first phase for the International Accreditation with JCI Standards that was organized with International Quality Resources Health Accreditation. The mission of Hospital de General Medellín is a social enterprise of the state that provides health services up to high complexity levels. Such services focus on patient safety and provide affection, confidence and satisfaction while promoting high-quality and good environmental practices.

Clínica El Rosario
Clínica El Rosario is a prestigious non-profit institution of religious nature that belongs to the society of Dominican Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin of Tour. Clínica El Rosario is a 240 bed multi-functioning hospital with two headquarters in Medellín. Clínica El Rosario is a pioneer in healthcare with a mission to contribute to life and health recovery through a comprehensive secure, humane and differentiated service with specialized personal and excellent management that ensures value creation for the target social groups, economic sustainability and performance in time. Clínica El Rosario’s international specialty services consist of Hip Replacement, Knee Replacement, Heart Value Surgery, and Radiology.

Centro Odontol g Congregaci n Mariana

Centro Odontol gico Congregaci n Mariana is a non-profit institution, with offices in the south and downtown areas of Medellín to provide general and specialized oral health to the public. Centro Odontol gico Congregaci n Mariana has a total of 16 rooms and three operating rooms. Aesthetic Dentistry, Oral Rehabilitation, and Dental Implants are the most sought after by international patients. Centro Odontol gico Congregaci n Mariana has a vision to consolidate in 2015 as the renowned oral health institution in the city for its technical quality and competitive pricing.

Clinica Odontol gica Promta
Clinica Odontol gica Promta has 21 years of experience providing the highest quality in comprehensive oral health services offering all dental specialties, with four clinics located strategically throughout Medellín. Clinica Odontol gica Promta serves 10,000 patients a month and has the capacity to treat 150 international patients, with 50 % of international patients being treated from the US and 35 % from Spain. Clinica Odontol gica is conveniently positioned only steps away from downtown hotels and only two blocks from popular international lodging.

Hospital Pablo Tob Uribe
Hospital Pablo Tob n Uribe is a non-profit institution with a mission to provide an incomparable complexity in the healthcare industry while contributing the most current scientific knowledge within a structure of Christian humanism. Hospital Pablo Tob n Uribe is the first and only hospital in Colombia to be both ISQUA accredited and receive the excellence institution certification of high complexity level of health in Colombia. Hospital Pablo Tob n Uribe is a 255-bed hospital specializing in Transplants, Advance Oncology, Palliative Care, Orthopedics, and Cosmetic Surgery.

Centro Cardiovascular Colombiano Cliníca Santa María
Since 1966, Centro Cardiovascular Colombiano Cliníca Santa María has treated patients with cardiovascular diseases in areas of prevention, diagnosis, invasive and surgical treatment. Centro Cardiovascular Colombiano Cliníca Santa María is another leader in Colombia healthcare, completing the first heart and lung transplant in Colombia and is a national and international reference center. Centro Cardiovascular Colombiano Cliníca Santa Mar a is committed to offering specialized services to its patients specializing in areas such as Angioplasty without Stent, Cardiac Value Replacement, Coronary Bypass Surgery, Cardiac Transplants and Hemodynamics. Centro Cardiovascular Colombiano Cliníca Santa María offers a total of 140 beds, 73 specialists, and has proven to be a leader with the highest quality standards in medicine.

Clinica Oftalmolgica de Antioquia-Colfan
Clinica Oftalmolgica de Antioquia-Colfan is modernly designed for all patients to receive the most proficient care and specializes in Phacoemulsification Cataract Surgery, Refractive Surgery and Corneal Surgery for international patients. Clinica Oftalmolgica de Antioquia-Colfan has a total of 59 specialist physicians, allowing this innovative facility to receive additional international patients.
Servicios Aereos Panamericanos “SARPA”

Sarpa is a charter airline company with offices in both Medellín and Bogotá that offers charter services, air ambulance services, domestic and international flights including load and passenger transportation. Sarpa is the first and only Colombian entity certified by the Colombian Civil Aviation Authority. Sarpa has attended to international patients in countries such as Aruba, San Marteen, Costa Rica, Peru, Ecuador and many more. This air ambulance group has 25 specialists, five anesthesiologists and 10 emergency specialists for all adult general illness, trauma, pediatric and newborns. Sarpa goes over and beyond expectations with safe and dependable transportation when it is most needed with revolutionary technology and human warmth.

About The Author
Stephanie Falcone is Membership Coordinator, and involved in managing the Social Media & Marketing Department for the Medical Tourism Association. Stephanie provides recruitment, coordination and retention support for members of the MTA. In addition, she supports the Health Tourism Magazine. She may be reached at or

Discover The Transformation of Medellin, Colombia.