LuisSierra, Alberto Ferrer and Segundo Cardona
Firm offices in construction , 1989
Arch. Luis S. Sierra (1944-2005)
SCF offices in Guaynabo
SCF Arquitectos. A history of the firm.
More than thirty years ago, architects Segundo Cardona, Luis Sierra, and Alberto Ferrer embarked on a mission to create architecture with a positive and lasting impact on the physical, social, economic, and cultural context of Puerto Rico.
In September of 1984, architects Luis Sierra, Segundo Cardona, and Alberto Ferrer joined efforts in a firm that would become both a prolific practice and a strong influence on the built landscape of Puerto Rico. Since the beginning, the firm has successfully maintained its strong commitment to the concept of lasting architectural excellence through insightful and highly developed design solutions.
The founding partners of SCF Arquitectos had met each other at the University of Puerto Rico in the mid 1970’s, when they were design professors at the UPR School of Architecture.
Luis Sierra and Alberto Ferrer, who had known each other since childhood, had already worked together at Toro-Ferrer & Associates (TFA), an established, award-winning practice widely known for its tropical approach to modernist architecture. After a few years at TFA, both were made partners of the firm. Luis eventually decided to leave and start his own firm, while Alberto stayed at TFA a few years longer.
In 1978, Alberto and Luis coincided again as design professors at the UPR School of Architecture and in 1980 Alberto decided to join Luis in his firm, Luis Sierra & Associates.
Meanwhile, Segundo Cardona had established his solo practice. Segundo had entered architecture school in 1966, at only 16 years old. As an architecture student, he worked under Henry Klumb, a renowned German architect who had come to Puerto Rico to work with the administration of Governor Rexford Tugwell (1941–1946) and was one of Puerto Rico’s most prominent architects in the mid-20th century. Klumb’s strong work ethic and devotion to career were a strong influence on Segundo’s formative years. In 1973, one year after graduating, Segundo launched the office of Segundo R. Cardona, Arquitecto. For the next ten years he pursued his practice while also teaching design at the UPR School of Architecture.
In 1983 Segundo collaborated with Luis and Alberto in an effort to win a competition for the design of the seat for the Tribunal de Primera Instancia de Carolina (the Court of First Instance, municipality of Carolina). Winning this competition led to the discussion of a more permanent partnership in which the three personalities could join in common cause. As Sierra has said, in words that leave no doubt as to the three architects’ intention, they shared a “vision of doing things well, without cutting corners, and with unyielding principles and ethics.” The positive results obtained in their previous enterprises would only multiply with their new joint venture, and success quickly followed.
In October of 1984, the new firm was born under the name Sierra Cardona Ferrer. The office opened its doors on Recinto Sur Street in Old San Juan, where Sierra and Ferrer were already operating. More architects and technical staff were soon hired. After a short time, the firm realized that it needed more space, so the partners decided it was time to design a building for its booming practice. In 1989, a building was constructed in Metro Office Park, on Lot 13. It was designed to house both the architectural firm and the advertising agency Lopito, Ileana & Howie.
The building heralded a new chapter in the firm’s history, and just a year later it won a competition to build the Puerto Rican Pavilion at Seville Expo ’92. The international success of the project created a new wave of recognition for the architects. In spite of Puerto Rico’s economic difficulties at the time, Sierra Cardona Ferrer were beginning to enjoy a constant flow of work from new and repeat clients in both the private and public sectors.
In 1996, as Puerto Rico was competing to become the venue for the 2004 Olympic Games, the firm won a commission to design an Olympic arena in San Juan. The Olympic Games went to Athens instead of San Juan, but the Coliseo de Puerto Rico, inaugurated in 2004, has received international recognition from many quarters as one of the world’s most successful venues in the entertainment industry.
The new millennium continued to bring many exciting projects, such as the San Juan mass-transit Tren Urbano stations (eight of the sixteen were designed by Sierra Cardona Ferrer) and many other projects in the residential, corporate, health, hospitality, and interiors sectors.
What has made our practice so special is the diversity of projects we have dealt with, the variety of scale, and the fact that most have dealt with planning and development issues, all through interior architecture. As architects, we certainly strive to influence the urban spaces surrounding our buildings.
The firm celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2005 with a retrospective exhibition at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo in San Juan, showcasing the accomplishments resulting from effective leadership and teamwork. That same year a new name for the firm, SCF Arquitectos, announced its will to institutionalize the common vision of delivering excellence in design. By the end of the year, the unanticipated passing of founding partner Luis Sierra brought great sadness but at the same time a strengthened determination to maintain SCF’s legacy. In 2006, architects Carmen Rita Fortuño and Clemente González joined the partnership. Thirty years after its establishment, the firm continues as a stronghold of professional excellence in service and design guided by unyielding principles and ethics.
Our practice is not only about the clarity of our work, our designs, our capacity to find efficient solutions. It’s also about the quality of service to our clients and being able to successfully meet all the challenges that projects bring with them. It’s about always being able to see things a step ahead.
Over the past thirty years, the firm has completed more than 800 design projects in Puerto Rico and abroad. The projects, the firm and its partners have won many prestigious awards and recognitions, both locally and internationally. Among the most recent international awards received are the 2017 Public Space Award from the UIA, for the Paseo Puerta de Tierra promenade in San Juan, and two awards for the Salvation Army’s Ray & Joan Kroc Community Center in Guayama, Puerto Rico: the 2014 Best Public Building Award from the International Union of Architects (UIA) and the IPC/IAKS (International Association for Sports and Leisure Facilities) Distinction for Accessibility.