Floralis Genérica neglect: Buenos Aires wants its flower power back

The iconic, dynamic sculpture was damaged by several storms and the city is assessing the damage with no set date for repairs

Buenos Aires’ giant steel flower is wilting. 

The city’s iconic steel sculpture Floralis Genérica, a bustling tourist attraction, has been hit by a series of summer storms that caused two of its large metal petals to collapse. While efforts to restore its former splendor have taken root, there’s no saying when the Buenos Aires icon will come out smelling of roses. 

On December 17, a severe thunderstorm that killed 13 people in Buenos Aires province and injured dozens more also caused one of the petals of the iconic monument in Recoleta to fall out of the structure. On March 14, following days of torrential downpours, a second petal fell, leaving residents and tourists alike wondering if there is a plan to revive the steel flower.

According to Javier Mayorca, spokesperson for the Ministry of Public Space and Urban Hygiene (MEPHU) of the City of Buenos Aires, there is an ongoing “structural evaluation”. The process began with a full opening of the structure on March 18 to evaluate the status of “each petal and its working mechanisms.”

Constructed in 2002 and designed by the Argentine architect Eduardo Catalano, the Floralis Genérica is one of the most iconic landmarks in Buenos Aires, located in the United Nations Plaza next to the UBA School of Law in Recoleta.

The 23-meter tall structure is made of stainless steel and was originally designed with a hydraulic system with photoelectric sensors that allowed its six large petals to automatically open and close with sunrise and sunset, as flowers do. This system didn’t work until months after the monument’s inauguration.

But the torn petals are not the first structural issue to befall the Floralis Genérica. Mayorca told the Herald that the sculpture’s hydraulic system broke down back in 2009, after a storm. But it wasn’t until 2012 that MEPHU estimated that AR$2 million would be required to return the structure to full functionality. The petals reopened in 2015, although they had to be opened and closed manually. 

Catalano claimed the petals were defective from the start, obligating manufacturer Lockheed Martin Aircraft Argentina to pay for repairs. However, the company was nationalized in 2009, which left the Floralis without an official repairs sponsor.

According to Mayorca, in 2020 and 2022 various renovation projects were carried out in the United Nations Plaza, including new access ramps, greenery, and new benches and trails. They also included maintenance and support for the gear assembly of the Floralis, although it continued to be manually operated.

The current evaluation of the Floralis — carried out by monuments and artwork specialists, personnel from the Urban Landscape Subsecretariat of MEPHU, and engineers specializing in repair and maintenance of large machines — is estimated to take two months. According to Mayorca, MEPHU is performing this “meticulous preliminary work” with the goal of “durable and sustainable repairs over time.”

Following this evaluation phase, the bidding process for the sculpture’s repair can move forward, according to Mayorca. Given that there is still no set conclusion date for the ongoing inspections, it remains unclear whether the Floralis will bloom in time for next spring.


All Right Reserved.  Buenos Aires Herald