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date: 03 December 2022

Architecture in Mexico City, 1940–1980free

Architecture in Mexico City, 1940–1980free

  • Kathryn E. O’RourkeKathryn E. O’RourkeDepartment of Art and Art History, Trinity University


Architecture in Mexico City in the mid-20th century was shaped by rapid economic and urban growth, demographic change, new construction technologies, and politics. Architects adapted modernist idioms and those that evoked historical precedents for new purposes. Key figures who had begun practice earlier in the century, including Mario Pani, Juan O’Gorman, José Villagrán García, and Luis Barragán, designed major new works and strongly influenced the profession, even as a new generation led by Pedro Ramírez Vázquez, Ricardo Legorreta, and Teodoro González de Léon came of age. As they had been since the 1920s, public patrons were the most important clients of modern buildings, which often addressed needs for better housing, education, and health care. The period also saw the rise of modern suburbs and the evolution of the single-family house, as well as the creation of major buildings for increasingly important cultural institutions, especially museums.

As they had in preceding decades, architects used the non-architectural arts, particularly painting, to distinguish their works. The legacy of the Mexican muralist movement was most evident on the facades of major buildings in the new University City, where the influence of international modernist planning principles was also striking. In 1968 Mexico City hosted the Olympics, for which architects, planners, and designers created a network of buildings and images that functioned interdependently to present Mexico as cosmopolitan and historically rooted in its indigenous history. Sprawl and pollution worsened in the 1970s, as the capital came to be dominated by buildings that were not designed by architects. While some observers questioned the relevance of architecture in the face of seemingly unstoppable and uncontrollable growth, talented young architects responded with buildings notable for their monumentality, mass, and sophisticated engagement with historical types.


  • History of Mexico
  • 1910–1945
  • 1945–1991
  • Social History
  • Urban History

Fueled by a booming economy, advances in industrialization, and internal migration, in the 1940s Mexico City grew faster than at any time in its history. In the decades that followed, it became the heart of one of the world’s largest metropolitan areas. This growth, combined with the patronage of an increasingly autocratic federal government, and architects’ continued attention to questions of how to simultaneously express cosmopolitanism and national distinctiveness, shaped architecture in the capital for much of the rest of the century. The historical trajectory of formal change between 1940 and 1980 was, in general, marked by the absorption, adoption, and adaptation of mid-century International Style modernism, followed by the embrace of languages that alluded, with varying degrees of abstraction, to pre-Columbian architecture and vernacular forms. Monumentality characterized many important works, which, by the end of the period, were also often heavily massed, giantly scaled, and similar in some respects to “brutalist” buildings in other countries. Investigations into the relationships among modern design, painting, landscape architecture, and city planning, and research on structural techniques also characterized these decades.

Four interrelated themes define the architecture of the period: responsiveness to urbanization and growth, which manifest in the boom in buildings dedicated to improving social welfare and as the development of exclusive residential suburbs; an ambition to convey technological modernization and create modern institutions; the close relationship between architecture and politics; and the enduring belief in the potential of references to historical forms, particularly those associated with indigenous cultures, to express national distinctiveness.

The origins of these problems lay in debates and developments of the preceding four decades. Although it was not as rapid as at mid-century, urban growth was considerable at the turn of the 20th century and in the forty years thereafter. In that period architects began to acknowledge Mexican architectural history in new designs even as they integrated elements from the international languages of Art Deco and Modern Classicism, and responded to avant garde buildings in France and Germany of the 1920s. Simultaneously, the idea that “national” architecture reflected Mexico’s history of European and indigenous cultural mixing grew. After the Mexican Revolution (1910–1917), the federal government routinely hired modern architects for projects devoted to improving education, health care, and housing. It relied on modern architecture to convey social and technological progress, and used it, often with other arts, to shape a far-reaching definition of Mexico’s visual culture that was directed from Mexico City, but based largely on Mexico’s rich, provincial, indigenous heritage.1 Well into the middle of the century, architects collaborated with painters and sculptors to decorate façades and wall surfaces in works that usually dealt with nationalist themes, buildings’ programs, or alluded to folk traditions.

Architects and Influences before 1940

Many of the most important architects of the 1940s and after began their careers during the 1920s and 1930s, or were shaped by developments in those decades. Foremost among them were Juan O’Gorman, Mario Pani, Luis Barragán, and José Villagrán García. For these architects the forties were years of transition, experimentation, or maturation. Notable formal shifts in the work of O’Gorman and Barragán occurred then, as each in different ways deepened his appreciation of landscape. In addition to maintaining a steady practice, Pani shepherded the growth of the influential journal Arquitectura (later Arquitectura/México) that he had begun in 1939, which documented new and old buildings in Mexico and developments abroad.2 From the mid-thirties until 1957, Villagrán García served as a professor of architectural theory at the national university, where his ideas about the relationship between rationalism and social reform shaped countless architects. For all three but Villagrán, the idea that modern architecture had close connections to painting, especially muralism in the cases of O’Gorman and Pani, began before 1940 and shaped their work thereafter.

In the mid-twenties, bolstered by the idealism and reformist ambitions of people in many domains, Villagrán and Carlos Obregón Santacilia, along with Guillermo Zárraga and Vicente Mendiola (architects who would figure less prominently in later decades), led the transformation of architectural education in Mexico City. Copying Renaissance and Baroque monuments was deemphasized even as the compositional principles and attention to architectural program characteristic of the Ecole des Beaux Arts were retained. In place of classical models, faculty suggested new sources of inspiration, including colonial Mexican building and unornamented, orthogonal designs emerging in the works of Le Corbusier and architects associated with the Bauhaus. By the early 1930s, the stripped forms of rationalist modernism were embraced and politicized by both the Mexican government and some architects, particularly O’Gorman, who valued their economy and regarded their relative formal austerity as an expression of an ardent commitment to social reform centered on improving the lives of the working class.

Foreign architects influenced those in Mexico before and after 1940 in several ways. Beginning in the mid-1920s, new work abroad was published rather inconsistently in several venues including Cemento (later renamed Tolteca), the trade journal of the Portland Cement Company, as well as in El Arquitecto, the journal of the Society of Mexican Architects. Le Corbusier’s buildings received perhaps the greatest attention, while discussions of designs by the French master of concrete, Auguste Perret, also helped reinforce the francophone rationalism associated with Villagrán García. Some foreign periodicals and theoretical texts reached Mexico, although apparently inconsistently. Pani studied architecture at the Ecole des Beaux Arts and, upon his return to Mexico, in major private and public projects reinforced the centrality of axial composition and complex, rigorous façade composition associated with the Ecole. He did more than any other architect to transmit to Mexico the urban planning principles associated with Le Corbusier and, by bringing French-trained Russian architect Vladamir Kaspé to Mexico in the 1940s and frequently publishing his essays in Arquitectura/México, further contributed to Mexican architects’ knowledge of international developments. Barragán, who came to Mexico City from his native state of Jalisco as an adult, also traveled in Europe in the twenties, where he saw many of Le Corbusier’s buildings firsthand. In 1939, Swiss architect Hannes Meyer, who directed the Bauhaus from 1928 to 1930, moved to Mexico, where he headed the Institute of Urbanism and Planning until 1941 and later a major Mexican press.3 German architect Max Cetto settled in Mexico City in the late 1930s, having studied with Frank Lloyd Wright and Richard Neutra in the United States.4 An accomplished architect on his own, his collaboration with Luis Barragán on the Gardens of El Pedregal was particularly notable. Spanish engineer Félix Candela came to Mexico in the wake of the Spanish Civil War and went on in later decades to become its most innovative designer in thin-shelled concrete construction.5

Urbanization and Growth

The roots of the enormous urban growth of mid-20th-century Mexico City lay in the expansion that began in the third quarter of the 19th century. In that period planners and artists modernized the diagonal road that ran southwest from the western edge of Mexico City’s downtown park, the Alameda Central, to the vast Chapultepec Park, where the presidential residence stood. By 1900 this road, known as the Paseo de la Reforma, was lined with houses built by wealthy industrialists and had become the spine off of which fashionable new suburbs grew. In later decades many major commercial and government buildings, particularly including hotels and office buildings, were built along it. Along with the extension of the city’s major north–south Insurgentes Avenue, Reforma served as one of the two axes that guided the direction of most middle- and upper-middle-class residential and commercial development southwest from the historic colonial center.

Figure 1. Paseo de la Reforma, c. 1960. Postcard collection of the Author.

In the 1940s industrialization and internal migration to Mexico City presented new opportunities and created new pressures on infrastructure. As urban growth accelerated markedly, the skyline steel- and concrete-frame buildings drove the skyline higher. Important administrative changes were implemented when the Federal District, encompassing the Central Department and thirteen boroughs (delegaciones), was created in 1929, in part to centralize the management of growth. The entity was restructured in 1941, when one borough and the Central Department were collapsed into “Mexico City,” and with the remaining twelve boroughs constituted the Federal District. Mexico City was divided into four boroughs in 1970, bringing the total number in the Federal District to sixteen. “Mexico City” and “Federal District,” although not technically synonymous, were long used interchangeably. In 2016 the Federal District was abolished and “Mexico City” declared to be coterminous with the area formerly included in it.

Since the late 1920s modern architects and their patrons had responded to the growing demands for affordable housing, up-to-date schools, and modern health-care and recreation facilities. Notable works that served these needs were Juan Legarreta’s workers’ housing east of the center (1932), the approximately thirty elementary schools Juan O’Gorman designed in working-class and semi-rural parts of the Federal District (1933), Antonio Muñoz García’s Central School of the Revolution for 5,000 students (1934), Villagrán García’s National Hygiene Institute (1925), the Tuberculosis Sanatorium in the suburb of Tlalpan (1929–1936), and the vast Venustiano Carranza Workers’ Park by Juan Segura in the eastern district of Balbuena (1929).

In the 1940s two major buildings devoted to improving teaching and the administration of welfare programs helped introduce to Mexico the languages of international bureaucratic modernism. They also marked the westward expansion from the historic center of federal buildings. For the National Teachers’ Training School (1945), Mario Pani created a rigorous axial plan on a roughly trapezoidal site.

Figure 2. Mario Pani, National Teachers’ Training School, 1945. Postcard collection of the Author.

A pair of curved wings housing classrooms and offices and articulated by a taught fenestration pattern met at a slender central skyscraper. On axis beyond the skyscraper a fan-shaped outdoor theater opened. An outdoor mural by José Clemente Orozco covered the proscenium wall, and relief sculptures by Luis Ortiz Monasterio decorated the large entablature above the porticos that flanked the skyscraper on the main façade. In its integration of classical elements, modern art, and building materials including concrete, brick, and stone, as well as its astutely handled geometric abstraction, the building typified Pani’s work of the 1940s. Along Reforma, Carlos Obregón Santacilia’s Mexico Social Security Institute (1946–1950) introduced the glass curtain wall to the capital in a long slab set atop a two-story portico.

As the foremost architect of apartment buildings in Mexico City, Pani designed works that brought the principles of high-rise construction and city planning associated with Le Corbusier to Mexico City and radically altered the way many residents lived. Francisco Serrano’s Art Deco Edificio Basurto (1940–1944) preceded Pani’s works in adding to the apartment stock beyond that created in the late twenties and thirties, but it did so for a fairly affluent clientele and on a tight urban site. By contrast, Pani’s President Alemán Housing Complex (Unidad Habitacional Presidente Alemán) consisted of twelve buildings, six of which were arranged in a zigzag formation diagonally across an entire block. The plan recalled Le Corbusier’s housing schemes, and specifically his model of for the Radiant City (1935). Nineteen buildings, each belonging to one of four types with different-sized apartments, constituted Pani’s even larger Benito Juarez Housing Complex (1950–1952). For this project (which was quite damaged in the 1985 earthquake), Pani collaborated with architect Enrique del Moral and artist Carlos Mérida, who created distinctive abstract exterior mosaics panels evocative of pre-Columbian ritual processions. The largest and most significant of Pani’s housing projects was the vast Nonoalco-Tlatelolco project (1962–1964), which included tall towers and long slabs arranged on a site that stretched across three giant blocks north of downtown and symbolically centered on the archaeological remains of the pre-conquest city of Tlaltelolco, the colonial church of Santiago de Tlaltelolco (c. 1600), and the new Plaza of the Three Cultures.

Figure 3. Mario Pani, Nonoalco-Tlatelolco Housing Development, 1962–1964.

Photograph by the Author.

(This was later the site of the Tlalteoloco Massacre of 1968, in which perhaps as many as 300 demonstrators, many of them students, were shot by the military and police.) Like all of the “unidades habitacionales,” this one included shops and recreation areas, as well as medical and educational facilities. With Pani’s glazed, triangular Banobras Tower and Pedro Ramírez Vazquez’s Ministry of Foreign Relations building (1964–1965) as part of the campus, as Castañeda argued, the project typified the curation of history and culture by architects and the federal government characteristic of the 1960s.6

Figure 4. Pani, Nonoalco-Tlatelolco Housing Development.

Photograph by the Author.

New kinds of dwellings for middle-class and wealthy residents of the capital also transformed the city. Spanish colonial-revival–style houses were built in the new neighborhood of Polanco, just north of Chapultepec Park beginning in the late 1930s. Luis Barragán’s Gardens of El Pedregal (1947), built far south of the center on the rugged lava beds of the Pedregal, helped establish the typology of the U.S. suburb in Mexico City, pull the metropolitan area south, and make landscape design an increasingly important component of modern architecture. Acting as architect and real-estate developer, Barragán organized large lots on winding streets on hilly terrain that retained the area’s distinctive black rock. Single-family houses were set in yards surrounded by high walls and governed by strict design standards that specified modernist architectural forms and leaving in place geological formations. Notable houses in the Gardens of El Pedregal include those by Max Cetto, with whom Barragán worked closely in the development of the design and Francisco Artigas.7 Far to the north of the Gardens of El Pedregal stand the five wedge-shaped tower-like concrete sculptures that Barragán designed in 1957–1958, with his frequent collaborator, artist Mathias Goeritz, as landmarks for the Satellite City, a middle-class suburb designed by Pani. Each was painted red, yellow, blue, or a neutral color, and, standing in a giant median, they addressed viewers zooming past in automobiles on either side.

Barragán’s most famous works of the mid-century were his private houses. They were notable for their large stucco walls, which were often brightly painted; reposeful gardens; and careful manipulation of light and sightlines. Among these are Barragán’s own house (1947), the Egerström House and Stables (1966), and the Gilardi House (1976), with its much-photographed hall, illuminated by a slit window of yellow glass and its combined dining room/natatorium.

By the 1960s Mexico City’s sprawl and population growth led to a variety of attempts to improve circulation and relieve congestion. Two of the most important were closely tied to major architectural and design projects. In 1925 urban planner Carlos Contreras had proposed a major ring road, along with other rationalization mechanisms, to organize growth and transit in Mexico City. The road, known as the Anillo Periférico, was built in different stages only in the 1960s, with one of its most important parts, the Periférico Sur, being developed from the ten-mile Route of Friendship, a road that connected major venues of the 1968 Olympics and which was lined with large-scale sculptures by international artists. In 1967 construction of the subway system began. By 1980 there were four lines; today there are twelve. The metro is famous for its color-coded lines and bold iconographic coding system, developed by U.S.-born artist Lance Wyman, who also created many of the signature logos for the Olympics.8

Figure 5. Mexico City Subway. Photograph by Hajor. Creative Commons License.

Modern Technologies and Modern Institutions

Architects embraced the language of mid-century International Style modernism with its heavily glazed walls and expressed structural systems widely in Mexico City beginning around 1950, and used it in many building types to convey both technological sophistication and the modernity of the institutions these buildings housed. Formally these works reflected the influence of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe generally, although his theorizations of organicism, technology, and subjectivity had relatively little, if any, effect on Mexican architects. Together with Félix Candela’s bottling plant of concrete hyperbolic paraboloids, with which it shared a suburban campus, Mies’s one building in Mexico, the administration building of the Bacardí Rum Company (1960), however, illustrated architectural modernism’s multiplicity and variety at mid-century in Mexico and in many places.9

Figure 6. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Bacardí Administration Building, 1960.

Photograph by the Author.

Candela’s innovative works in thin-shelled concrete, such as the Cosmic Ray pavilion on the campus of the National Autonomous University (1951), the Los Manantiales restaurant in Xochimilco (1958), as well as his markets and subway stations, while equally sophisticated structurally, provided whimsical contrast to the comparably sober forms of Miesian modernism.

Figure 7. Félix Candela, Cosmic Ray Pavilion, 1951.

Photograph by the Author.

Among significant works in the tradition of high modernism descended from the German avant garde was the tall office building that housed the Ministry of Hydraulic Resources designed by Pani and Enrique del Moral on Reforma in 1946. With its bold forms, clear structural expression, bands of glazing, balconies, and strong address of the street, it recalled works by Erich Mendelsohn and forcefully declared that Mexican bureaucracy and the management of its water—one of the most pressing concerns since before the Spanish conquest—were up to date. With its curved façade, del Moral’s Reaseguradora Alianza office building (1952) bore an even stronger resemblance to Mendelsohn’s 1920s works.

Figure 8. Mario Pani and Enrique del Moral, Ministry of Hydraulic Resources, 1946. Postcard collection of the Author.

The most important work of architecture of the 20th century was the campus of the National Autonomous University, also known as University City. It embodied all of the major themes of the 1940–1980 period and in many respects represented the culmination of debates and problems that had animated Mexican architecture since the 1920s. But it uniquely expressed the breadth of the Mexican government’s ambition to present the country as a modern participant in an increasingly global order and to modernize higher education and research. The campus was built just east of the Gardens of El Pedregral, at what was then the southern terminus of Insurgentes Avenue, on the Pedregal lava beds. Meant as the setting for the shaping of the “New Mexican,” the design of its buildings and landscape expressed planners’ desire that Mexico be regarded as at once technologically modern and rooted in ancient, pre-conquest cultures. Carlos Lazo, a planner and bureaucrat, oversaw the entire project, but Pani and del Moral coordinated the teams of two or three architects, many of them led by a titan of the preceding decades, to design individual buildings. With its vast lawns and terraces, views of distant volcanoes and mountains, programmatic zoning, and circulation system that confined vehicular traffic to the perimeter, the campus united planning principles associated with the International Congress on Modern Architecture (CIAM) and evocations of pre-Columbian cities.

Figure 9. Pani and del Moral, Campus of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, 1950–1953. Postcard collection of the Author.

Figure 10. Alonso Mariscal and Ernesto Gómez Gallardo, School of Jurisprudence, National Autonomous University of Mexico.

Photograph by the Author.

The arrangement of very different-looking buildings—from Pani and del Moral’s glazed skyscraper housing-administrative offices, to Alberto Arai’s handball courts, which recalled pre-conquest pyramids—at great distances from one another, gave the campus a formality and monumentality befitting a major government project. The use of volcanic rock as cladding and paving material visually and symbolically rooted it to the ground.

Figure 11. Campus of the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

Photograph by the Author.

Multistory mural-like exterior mosaics, most dealing with national themes, by major artists including David Alfaro Siqueiros, politicized the buildings, suggested that the once-radical Mexican muralist movement had been thoroughly coopted by the government, and centralized the campus in discussions of “plastic integration.”10

Figure 12. Pani and del Moral, Administration Building (Rectory), National Autonomous University of Mexico.

Photograph by the Author.

The other major university of the period was the Instituto Polítecnico Nacional (1957–1964) by Reinaldo Pérez Rayón. The architect belonged to the tradition of strident rationalism associated with Juan O’Gorman in the 1930s, but by mid-century adopted the international language of Miesian modernism. With its long, four-story classroom buildings, each with an expressed steel frame, large windows, and brick infill, the campus called to mind Mies’s design for the Illinois Institute of Technology (1941), but with the ground-level steel-framed walkways beneath the buildings it resembled even more closely its nearly exact contemporary, Philip Johnson’s University of Saint Thomas in Houston, Texas. The campus lacked the classicism of either of the U.S. campuses, with its buildings aligned rather than arranged around a mall.

The completion of the Torre Latinoamericana skyscraper on one of the most prominent corners in downtown radically altered the city center in 1956. Named for the insurance company La Latinoamericana, Seguros, S.A., that commissioned it as its headquarters, the building was the tallest building in Latin America, and among the tallest in the world, when it was finished. Bands of windows, concrete, and blue aluminum panels wrapped the building. A base stepped up and back to a twenty-four-story shaft that soared above the Historic Center. Atop the building was an observation deck and sixty-foot antenna. The building’s glazing and form called to mind the great skyscrapers of Manhattan, and in the 1950s there was no greater symbol of Mexico’s increasing participation in private international commerce.

Figure 13. Manuel de la Colina and Augusto H. Álvarez, Latinoamericana Tower, 1956.

Photograph by the Author.

Designed by architects Manuel de la Colina and Augusto H. Álvarez, with engineers Leonardo and Adolfo Zeevaert, the building was also famous as an engineering marvel. At the time of its completion, its forty-four stories were considered daringly dangerous in an earthquake zone. 361 steel beams driven deep into a foundation forty-four feet below ground and a steel frame designed to sway helped the building withstand (with almost no damage) major earthquakes in 1957 and 1985. In the later quake, many buildings nearby were reduced to rubble.

At mid-century architects and engineers used expressed structural systems, whether in steel or concrete, to shape not just office buildings and university campuses, but churches. Like those in many countries, they reflected the architectural challenge of expressing notions of sacrality and divinity in modern idioms in the aftermath of genocide and the detonation of atomic weapons. Two of the most striking were Felix Candela’s Church of the Miraculous Medal (1953–1955) and Juan Sordo Madeleno’s Church of San Ignacio (1959; with Zeevaert). Starting with a hyperbolic parabolid asymmetrically placed on a pier to form an “inverted umbrella,” Candela developed a design that reinterpreted traditional ecclesiastical vaulting systems and church plans to create a building that belonged to both a very long lineage of church architecture and a much more recent one, embodied by Perret’s Church of Notre Dame du Raincy (1923), and used concrete and a modern vocabulary to convey the lightness and structural rigor associated with Gothic architecture.

Figure 14. Candela, Church of the Miraculous Medal, 1953–55.

Photograph by the Author.

Sordo Madeleno’s building, on the other hand, used an expressed steel frame to shape interior space into a pyramidal form in a work notable for its formal and structural clarity. Inclined walls met at a point high overhead, and the altar was lit by huge expanses of stained glass in the transepts.

With the new universities, churches, and office buildings, a vast new medical center built for the Mexican Social Security Institute south of the historic center and inaugurated in 1963 made Mexico City look and seem ever more like a modern metropolis with modern institutions.

Figure 15. José Villagrán García, Medical Center, c. 1965. Postcard collection of the Author.

Designed by José Villagrán García, who had created hospitals, research facilities, and administrative buildings for federal Health Ministry and its related offices since the 1920s, like his earlier works, the medical-center campus was governed by an underlying classicism. Closely spaced high-rise concrete and glass slabs containing facilities for specialized treatment for were arranged around a large, nearly rectangular mall. A prominent circular auditorium for meetings and conferences was set just off of this and formally relieved the otherwise fairly unrelenting orthogonality of the project.

A bit more like the Miesian-inflected New Formalist works by Philip Johnson than buildings from earlier in the century, Artigas’s one-story Administrative Headquarters for the Federal School Construction Program (CAPFCE) of 1967 in the former colonial town of Coyoacán (by then a suburb) clearly spoke the language of international mid-century bureaucracy. Artigas set its glazed walls back under a slab and atop a base that he connected with piers and organized around a rectangular courtyard. The building’s cool classicism gave it a cosmopolitan character.

Architecture and Politics

Modern architecture and Mexican politics had had a close relationship since the 1920s, but it became more intimate with the construction of the University City and the Medical Center. While Lazo, Pani, and Villagrán all had personal and professional ties to the growing federal bureaucracy, no architect personified the entwining of politics and architecture as thoroughly as Pedro Ramírez Vázquez did. As chief architect of several of the most important projects of the second half of the century, which embodied particularly vividly the ambitions of President Gustavo Díaz Ordaz to further centralize power and project national strength internationally, Ramírez Vázquez choreographed a complex series of related design projects that served Mexico’s developmentalist goals and took place in what Castañeda has described as “image economies” that served multiple economic and political constituencies.11 Among the most important of these projects were the buildings, art installations, infrastructure, and signage created for the 1968 Olympics. With links to both international avant-garde movements and Huichol art, scaled to a rapidly spreading city, and intended for a television audience as well as for foreign visitors on the street, the visual network of the nineteenth Olympiad was the most sophisticated integration of modern design and modern politics in multiple media in Mexico in the 20th century.12

Prior to assuming a central role in the Mexican Olympic Committee, with Rafael Mijares Ramírez Vázquez had designed Mexico’s pavilions at several major international fairs. In these projects he developed an architectural language that combined Miesian idioms and exhibition strategies with specific or abstract references to ancient Mexican cultures to present Mexico as up to date and deeply rooted in its indigenous heritage. The “both/and” quality of these projects responded to the longstanding dilemma in Mexican architecture of simultaneously conveying connection to international norms while asserting cultural or natural distinction. By overtly addressing this question in multiple projects and in buildings that increasingly spoke the language of international bureaucracy, Ramírez Vázquez further solidified the association of historical allusion, modernity, and national politics in 20th-century Mexican architecture.

Figure 16. Pedro Ramírez Vázquez, National Museum of Anthropology, 1964.

Photograph by Ziko van Dijk. Creative Commons License.

The architect’s two most important single works were the National Museum of Anthropology (1964) and the new Basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe (1974–1976). The design principles that Ramírez Vázquez had developed in the pavilions coalesced in the museum, and it anchored architecturally the cultural-political iconographic network of the Olympics. Set in the midst of Chapultepec Park, the enormous museum housed the finest pre-conquest artifacts from throughout the country in a series of galleries entered off of a giant courtyard governed by a strong central axis. This space recalled both neoclassical precedents and, in its scale, Mesoamerican plazas. At one end stood an enormous column with bronze reliefs by Jesus Chávez Morado that resembled Mesoamerican architectural sculpture and supported a giant canopy from which a fountain periodically released water, as if to evoke the episodic storms of the rainy season in central Mexico.

Figure 17. Jesus Chávez Morado, Umbrella Fountain, 1964.

Photograph by the Author.

Tezontle and marble clad the building’s walls, and along with the massing of the walls framing the court, a giant steel screen on the upper-floor galleries by artist Manuel Felguérez and architect Javier Toussaint alluded to pre-Columbian architecture in the Yucatan Peninsula. On axis with the main entrance to the museum was the gallery housing Aztec art. The extremely high ceilings, few windows, and dramatic lighting of this gallery give it a ceremonial quality, while large planar partitions divided it in a manner evocative of Mies’s collages of vast clear-span spaces. The Anthropology Museum is one of the most widely admired museums in the world, but it also represents the de-contextulization and consolidation into “national patrimony,” as defined by academics and bureaucrats in Mexico City, of major works of art (and, in some cases, of enduring cultural importance) from indigenous communities far from the capital.

Situated next to Pedro de Arrieta’s basilica (1695–1709) and housing the sacred mantle with the miraculous image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, Ramírez Vázquez’s enormous circular basilica derived its power from both its site and its association with the holiest and most revered work of art in the Americas. The main problem the building addressed was accommodating and moving enormous crowds through the space, and past the mantle each day without risking chaos. (The solution was to install three parallel moving sidewalks beneath the image and behind the main altar.) Having more in common with Oscar Niemeyer’s basilica at Brasilia (and perhaps with new Mexican bus stations) than with the church to its north, Ramírez Vázquez’s work was linked to historical precedent less through form than through planning. As part of the project the architect reshaped the space in front of the old church into a monumental plaza (which symbolically replicated Mexico City’s main plaza, the Zócalo) to be defined by the two basilicas together. With its orientation and circulation governed by the position of the most important image in Mexican history, the new basilica derived meaning from its connection to revered colonial buildings and paintings. Elsewhere on the hill where the complex of buildings associated with the Virgin of Guadalupe stands was Francisco Guerrero y Torres’s Chapel of the Well (1777–1791), one of the finest Mexican baroque buildings, which marked the place where a spring is believed to have miraculously flowed following an apparition. Since the 18th century the Virgin of Guadalupe has functioned as a multivalent image and been as important a political symbol as a religious one, particularly in the evolution of power centered on Mexico City.13 Although they are somewhat awkwardly removed from the urban fabric, in their scale the new basilica and plaza typify the monumentalizing tendencies of 1970s architecture in the capital that was particularly pronounced in official projects.

Figure 18. Ramírez Vázquez, Basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe, 1974–76.

Photograph by the Author.

History and Exceptionalism

The enduring importance of allusions, and in some instances specific connections, to pre-Columbian and colonial art and architecture that the Anthropology Museum and Basilica of Guadalupe embodied grew from the tendency in Mexican architecture that emerged around the turn of the 20th century to attempt to express national character formally by referring to Mexican architectural history. As the century wore on, such expressions became increasingly abstract and reliant upon shared understandings, developed over several decades before 1950, of the chief characteristics of pre-Columbian and colonial architecture, and folk art, which were often coded as indigenous and “old.”

Figure 19. Ricardo Legorreta, Motor Court, Camino Real Hotel, 1968.

Photograph by the Author.

At mid-century Barragán became famous for his abstractions of colonial forms, particularly those associated with haciendas, and use of the bright colors found in many works of Mexican folk art. Into the 21st century Ricardo Legorreta and the architects in his firm carried on Barragán’s legacy at larger scale by painting even larger expanses of stuccoed walls in bright colors, such as pink and yellow, in buildings for major corporations, universities, and public and cultural institutions. Although it did not originally have the vivid colors seen today, one of Legorret’s first major projects, the Camino Real Hotel (1968) (the grounds of which Barragán designed with Mathais Goeritz) combined influences from Arai and Ramírez Vázquez—the inclined wall on the one hand, and the organization of interior space using broad terrace-like horizontal planes and steps, and long walls to create almost ceremonial effects, on the other. In the lobby and public areas, major works of art were installed, along with furniture designed to recall rustic works in wood and leather associated with provincial Mexican dwellings.14 More than any Mexican architect, by the end of the century, Legorreta had created an idiom that was recognized internationally as “Mexican” and sought by clients at home and abroad for this reason.

Figure 20. Legorreta, Camino Real Hotel, 1968; remodeled 1985, 2005.

Photograph by the Author.

In the 1930s Juan O’Gorman had also used colored walls and allusions to vernacular artistic traditions in his houses for artists and intellectuals and his elementary schools. By 1950 he had created the works most evocative of pre-conquest architecture. These included the museum, Anahuacalli, that he designed with his friend Diego Rivera, which recalled pre-Columbian temples and housed Rivera’s collection of pre-conquest art, and O’Gorman’s own mosaic-clad house in the Pedregal, which was set partially in a cave. In describing his house as “organic,” O’Gorman linked it to the architectural theory of Frank Lloyd Wright, whom he admired.

Figure 21. Juan O’Gorman and Diego Rivera, with Heriberto Pagelson and Ruth Rivera, Anahuacalli, 1945–1964.

By far O’Gorman’s most important work of the mid-century was the Central Library at University City. His huge mosaic depicting the history of Mexico wrapped around the ten stories housing the stacks. Indebted thematically and formally to Rivera’s monumental History of Mexico fresco (1929–1935) in the National Palace, it made what would have otherwise been a rather typical mid-century International Style slab into one of the country’s most iconic buildings. Made of colored stones gathered from throughout the country and arranged on small, square panels that were hoisted into place, with Arai’s handball courts, Augusto Pérez Palacio’s National Stadium, and the planning of the campus generally, the mosaic linked the university to a concept of indigeneity that relied on abstract references to the landscape and the broad association of pre-conquest architecture with native rock.

Figure 22. O’Gorman, Gustavo M. Saavedra, and Juan Martínez Velasco, Central Library, University City, 1952.

Photograph by the Author.

Abstract references to the pre-Cortesian era grew larger in scale and, like the university campus, expressed mounting anxiety about the essentially unregulated growth of the city in the 1960s and 1970s by being located far from its densest parts or attempting to wall it out. These later buildings also reflected a dissatisfaction with the glassy, boxy forms of mid-century International Style modernism. In works characterized by their monumentality and the blank walls they presented to the street, architects used large, simple geometries and textured concrete to shape buildings that simultaneously alluded to ancient architecture and revealed their designers’ conversance with international tendencies typified by the later works of Le Corbusier and to iconic buildings by Louis Kahn.

Agustín Hernández’s almost aggressive designs of the 1960s and 1970s were technologically and often programmatically sophisticated scaled-up inheritors of Arai’s handball courts. In his Escuela de Ballet Folklórico de México (1965–1968), the inclined wall of the pre-conquest pyramid that Arai had homed in on as the signature element of this architecture became the motif that animated the façades. The enormous building stood on a prominent corner site downtown. Its massing provided few clues about the somewhat complicated section within, and its sculptural interest kept the building from being merely a hostile gesture to pedestrians. Hernández developed his vigorous, assertive vocabulary further in the Heroico Colegio Militar (1971–1976; with Manuel González Rul), where the architect allegorized military force with reference to both pre-Columbian urbanism and the dynamism of visionary Soviet Constructivist schemes of the 1920s. As in Arai’s courts, the inclined wall seen against distant mountains, but at a much larger scale, was a major motif. With powerful geometries jutting out from a main mass high in the air, the mask-like façade of the short end of one building in the complex evoked pre-conquest anthropomorphic sculpture and loomed over the vast plaza at the huge military training complex in Tlalpan. In his own architecture studio (1974–1976), the architect used a similarly assertive and geometric language, but in this context it read as a futuristic response to its site rather than as an expression of state power. Here, interlocking inverted pyramids sat high atop the tree canopy on a giant pier and were connected to the adjacent slope by a rectangular volume. Clad in concrete, with narrow bands of windows, the building suggested remoteness and retreat above the treetops, and in its strong, interlocking geometries recalled Wright’s research into the use of organic forms as bases for structural systems in tall buildings evident in projects including the Price Tower (1956) in Bartlesville, Oklahoma.

Figure 23. Agustín Hernández, Model of the Architect’s Studio, 1974–1976.

Photograph by Intersofia. Creative Commons License.

Rather more humane works by Teodoro González de León and Abraham Zabuldovsky similarly suggested fortification but opened into pleasant, yet still monumental, interiors and partially shaded multi-story courtyards. These spaces recalled the patios of colonial cloisters and palaces very generally, but their massing, terracing, and long diagonal beams located them firmly in later 20th-century tendencies concerned with monumentality, materiality, and spatiality. The Colegio de México typified the architects’ skill at using large-scaled geometries to create buildings with reposeful characters that conveyed institutional authority without suggesting authoritarianism. Notable later works included the National Auditorium (1990–1991), and González de León’s Palacio de Justicia Federal (with J. Franciso Serrano, Carlos Tejeda, and Antonio Rodríguez), which was organized around a space inspired by Egyptian hypostyle halls. The Rufino Tamayo Museum in Chapultepec Park was one of the architects’ strongest smaller buildings. Open-plan galleries for displaying Tamayo’s collection and changing exhibitions of contemporary art opened off a central, multi-height lobby into which light poured from overhead.

Figure 24. Teodoro González de León and Abraham Zabuldovsky, Rufino Tamayo Museum, 1979–1981.

Photograph by the Author.

Figure 25. González de Léon and Zabuldovsky, Rufino Tamayo Museum.

Photograph by the Author.

Discussion of the Literature

Beginning around 1950 the history of modern architecture in Mexico was written chiefly by either Mexican architects, including José Villagrán García and Carlos Obregón Santacilia, who had themselves designed major buildings in the 1920s and 1930s and were still in practice at mid-century, or by foreigners, primarily from the United States. Texts by members of both groups were generally surveys that emphasized the maturation of a modernist idiom typified by the University City and new skyscrapers on the Paseo de la Reforma, they often stressed nationalist themes, including buildings’ roles in supporting state-directed social reforms, and proposed links between modern buildings and colonial and even pre-conquest works. Among the most prominent were Rossell and Carrasco’s Guía de Arquitectura Mexicana Contemporánea (1952); I. E. Myers’s, Mexico’s Modern Architecture (1952); the Sociedad de Arquitectos Mexicanos’ enormous, quarta-lingual 4000 Años de Arquitectura Mexicana (1956); and Hans Beacham’s, The Architecture of Mexico, Yesterday and Today (1969).15 Israel Katzman’s groundbreaking La arquitectura contemporánea mexicana; precedentes y desarrollo (1964) was the first significant work to contextualize Mexican architecture relative to international developments. Extensively illustrated and researched, it remains a standard reference.16

While surveys remained popular throughout the century, with major contributions from González Gortázar17 and Yañez,18 more narrowly focused treatments of individual architects and themes also emerged in later decades. Notable among these were monographs on Mario Pani, Juan O’Gorman, Enrique del Moral, and Carlos Obregon Santacilia, and the catalogue published in conjunction with an exhibition organized by the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes on José Villagrán García. More recent such works have focused on Félix Candela, Teodoro Gonzalez de Leon, and Juan Sordo Madeleno, while research on Pani continues apace. Since the 1980s scholars at the Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México have steadily documented modern buildings and their sources. Until recently, many histories emphasized the close relationship between architecture and politics in Mexico, often stressing the ways architecture reflected or responded to the political and social aims of the Mexican Revolution as it was institutionalized in political structures over several decades or expressed nationalist sentiments, usually with reference to the concept of identity.19 An exception is nearly all scholarship on Luis Barragán, which, with the important exception of Eggener’s work,20 has tended to emphasize biography and ways in which his buildings expressed notions of mysticism and solitude. The exhibition on Barragán held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1976 (and the accompanying short catalogue) brought increased international attention to the architect, as did the bestowing on him of the Pritzker Prize for Architecture in 1982.

More recently scholars in Mexico and abroad have devoted greater attention to archival resources, mined architectural journals, and brought increasingly interdisciplinary, international, and contextual approaches to their topics. Among the most notable are Eggener’s Luis Barragán’s Gardens of El Pedregal, Castañeda’s Spectacular Mexico: Design, Propaganda, and the 1968 Olympics, Lozoya and Pérez Vejo’s Arquitectura Escrita: docientos años de arquitectura mexicana, and Canales’s Architecture in Mexico 19002010: The Construction of Modernity: Works, Design, Art, and Thought.21 Other scholars, less focused on architecture specifically, have understood Mexico City from interdisciplinary perspectives, assessed its extraordinary growth, and documented the history of its distinctive ecology. Among their works are Between Geometry and Geography: Mexico City, Hotel Mexico: Dwelling on the ’68 Movement, I Speak of the City, the essays Megalopolis: la Modernización de la Ciudad de México en el Siglo XX, and those in The Mexico City Reader.22 Focused on the colonial period, Candiani’s Dreaming of Dry Land: Environmental Transformation in Colonial Mexico City explains the genesis and evolution of the 20th- and 21st-century hydrological crises.23 While still a small subfield, the study of modern landscape architecture emerged in the 1970s in discussions by Schjetnan24 and Kirby,25 and has been bolstered in works focused on Barragán26 and Frida Kahlo.27

The architecture of Mexico City has long had a prominent place in works devoted to architectural modernism in Latin America. Among the first and most notable of these was Henry Russell-Hitchcock’s catalogue that accompanied the exhibition Latin American Architecture Since 1945 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (1955). Other regional studies include Damasz, Art and Architecture in Latin America (1963), which focused chiefly on the question of plastic integration, and Bullrich, New Directions in Latin American Architecture (1969). More recently, Mexican buildings from mid-century were the subjects, with those from the same period in Brazil and Venezuela, of Fraser’s Building the New World: Modern Architecture in Latin America, 19301960.28 Recent scholars have responded to the questions of how and even whether to group buildings in the region’s extremely diverse and far-flung countries chiefly by stressing parallel and related, rather than hegemonic, themes across Latin America, often using a case-study method to survey major works. Among the most thorough is Carranza and Lara, Modern Architecture in Latin America: Art, Technology, and Utopia.29 Collections of essays include Latin American Modern Architectures: Ambiguous Territories, Beyond the Supersquare: Art and Architecture in Latin America after Modernism, and those published in catalogues that accompanied two major exhibitions, Cruaute & utopie: villes et paysages d’Amerique latine at the Centre international pour la Ville in Brussels and the enormous Latin America in Construction: Architecture 19551980 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.30

Primary Sources

Many architects’ writings including those by Villagrán García, Pani, del Moral, Arai, and O’Gorman have been published as single volumes since the 1940s and are easily located by searching major research catalogues such as WorldCat. Helpful volumes of collected writings and interviews include Testimonios Vivios, Luis Barragán: Escritos y Conversaciones, Fuentes para el studio de la arquititectura en Mexico, siglos XIX y XX, and Ideario de los Arquitectos,31 Although it focuses chiefly on the other arts, the Documents of Twentieth-Century Latin American and Latino Art database run by the International Center for the Arts of the Americas at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, provides full-text digitizations of some architects’ writings. Additions to the database are ongoing.

Of immense value, although not yet thoroughly indexed and sometimes difficult to obtain, are the articles in various architectural journals. Among these are Arquitectos de México (1957–1968), Arquitectura/México (1939–1980), Calli (1960–1974), Cemento (later Tolteca; 1925–1930), Espacios (1948–1959), and Urbe (1957–1969). Arquitectura/México is now indexed in the Avery Index of Architectural Periodicals, and the complete run is available on CD-ROM. Mexican architecture was covered abroad in major architectural publications as well. Significant sources that are indexed include Architectural Record, Architectural Forum, AIA Journal, Arts and Architecture, and L’architecture d’aujourd’hui. Depending on the topic, popular magazines and newspapers are sometimes useful, as are tourist guides. The most comprehensive of these is Terry’s Guide to Mexico, which was revised repeatedly into the 1970s. Mexican newspapers including El Universal, Reforma, and El Excélsior have also covered architecture intermittently.


There is no dominant repository for architects’ papers in Mexico, and materials are often scattered in institutional, government, and private collections. The quality and availability of archival resources vary considerably depending on the topic. Starting points are the Archivo de Arquitectos Mexicanos within the Facultad de Arquitectura at UNAM, the collections at the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Azcapotzalco, and the Dirección de Arquitectura y Conservación del Patrimonio Artístico Inmueble of the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes (INBA), which oversees the Museo Nacional de Arquitectura, which has changing exhibitions on Mexican architecture. Focused research on UNAM might draw from sources in the Archivo Histórico de la UNAM, on Barragán it should start with the holdings of the Barragán Foundation in Switzerland, and on Pani in the extraordinary collection of photographs and drawings that are housed at and have been digitized by the Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey. Enrique del Moral’s library has been collected and archived at the Archivo Diseño y Arquitectura. Scholars interested in architects who are living or whose offices continue in practice should attempt to contact the architects or firms directly. These include Ramírez Vázquez y Asociados and Legorreta Arquitectos. In addition to INBA, and again depending on topic, government repositories that may have useful materials include the Archivo General de la Nación, the Archivo del Departamento del Distrito Federal, and the Archivo de la Secretaría de Educación Pública. Fundación ICA maintains an impressive image and film archive including aerial photographs of the city made by the Compañía Mexicana Aerofoto, S.A., beginning in 1932.

Further Reading

  • Adrià, Miguel, et al. Teodoro González de León: obra completa. Mexico City: Arquine, 2004.
  • de Anda Alanís, Enrique. Una mirada a la arquitectura mexicana del siglo XX: diez ensayos. Mexico City: Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y los Artes, 2005.
  • Born, Esther. The New Architecture in Mexico. New York: Architectural Record, W. Morrow and Co., 1937.
  • Canales, Fernanda. Architecture in Mexico 1900–2010: The Construction of Modernity: Works, Design, Art, and Thought. Mexico City: Fomento Cultural Banamex, 2013.
  • Castañeda, Luis M. Spectacular Mexico: Design, Propaganda, and the 1968 Olympics. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2014.
  • Cetto, Max. Modern Architecture in Mexico. New York: Praeger, 1961.
  • Ciudad Universitaria: Crisol del México Moderno. Edited by Roger Díaz de Cossío. Mexico City: Fundación UNAM, 2009.
  • Correa, Felipe, and Carlos Garciavelez Alfaro. Mexico City: Between Geometry and Geography. Novato, CA: Applied Research and Design Publishing, 2014.
  • Cruz González Franco, Lourdes. “El Archivo de Arquitectos Mexicanos de la Facultad de la UNAM: retrospective y compromise.” Arq.urb 9 (2013). Available at
  • Eggener, Keith. Luis Barragán’s Gardens of El Pedregal. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2001.
  • Flaherty, George F. Hotel Mexico: Dwelling on the ’68 Movement. Oakland: University of California Press, 2016.
  • González Gortázar, Fernando. La arquitectura mexicana del siglo XX. Mexico City: Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y los Artes, 1996.
  • Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes. José Villagrán. Mexico City: Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, 1987.
  • Katzman, Israel. La arquitectura contemporánea mexicana; precedentes y desarrollo. Mexico, D.F.: Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, 1964.
  • López Rangel, Rafael. Enrique Yañez y la Cultura Arquitectónica Mexicana. Mexico City: Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana, 1989.
  • Modernity and the Architecture of Mexico. Edited by Edward R. Burian. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1997.
  • Luis Barragán: the Quiet Revolution. Edited by Federica Zanco. Milan: Skira Editore; Barragan Foundation; Vitra Design Museum, 2001.
  • Mario Pani: arquitecto. Edited by Louise Noelle. Mexico, D.F.: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, 2008.
  • Myers, I. E. Mexico’s Modern Architecture. New York: Architectural Book, 1952.
  • Noelle, Louise. Agustín Hernández. Mexico City: GG, 1995.
  • O’Gorman. Edited by Elena Poniatowska. Mexico City: Bital Grupo Financiero, 1999.
  • O’Rourke, Kathryn E. Modern Architecture in Mexico City: History, Representation, and the Shaping of a Capital. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2016.
  • Smith, Clive Bamford. Builders in the Sun: Five Mexican Architects. New York: Architectural Book, 1967.


  • 1. On architecture and urban growth in Mexico City before 1940: Enrique X. de Anda Alanís, La Arquitectura de la Revolución Mexicana (Mexico City: Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, 1990); Mauricio Tenorio Trillo, “1910 Mexico, D.F.: Space and Nation in the City of the Centenario,” Journal of Latin American Studies 28.1 (February 1996): 75–104; and Luis Carranza, Architecture as Revolution (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010).

  • 2. Louise Noelle, “La Revista Arquitectura/México,” in Mario Pani, ed. Louise Noelle (Mexico City: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, 2008), 317–328; and George F. Flaherty, “Mario Pani’s Hospitality: Latin America through Arquitectura/México,” in Latin American Modern Architectures: Ambiguous Territories, eds. Patricio del Real and Helen Gyger (New York: Routledge, 2013), 253–269.

  • 3. Patricia Rivadeneyra, “Hannes Meyer en México (1938–1949),” Cuadernos de arquitectura y conservacion del patrimonio artistico 20–21 (1982): 115–192.

  • 4. Juan Manuel Heredia, “The work of Max Cetto: Restorations of Topography and Disciplinarity in Twentieth Century Modern Architecture” (PhD diss., University of Pennsylvania, 2008).

  • 5. Maria E. Moreyra Garlock, David P. Billington, and Noah Burger, Félix Candela: Engineer, Builder, Structural Artist (London: Yale University Press, 2008).

  • 6. Luis M. Castañeda, Spectacular Mexico: Design, Propaganda, and the 1968 Olympics (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2014), 90–100.

  • 7. Keith Eggener, “Regionalism Revisited: The Case of Francisco Artigas,” Places (January 2015). Available at

  • 8. Castañeda, 197–243.

  • 9. Kathryn E. O’Rourke, “Mies and Bacardi: Mixing Modernism, c. 1960,” Journal of Architectural Education 66.1 (2012): 57–71.

  • 10. Mary K. Coffey, How a Revolutionary Art Became Official Culture (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2012).

  • 11. Castañeda, 1–100.

  • 12. Flaherty, “Responsive Eyes: Urban Logistics and Kinetic Environments for the 1968 Mexico City Olympics,” Journal of Architectural Historians 73.3 (September 2014): 372–397.

  • 13. William B. Taylor, “The Virgin of Guadalupe in New Spain: An Inquiry into the Social History of Marian Devotion,” American Ethnologist 14.1 (February 1987): 9–33.

  • 14. Castañeda, 175–181.

  • 15. Guía de Arquitectura Mexicana Contemporánea, eds. Guillermo Rossell and Lorenzo Carrasco (Mexico City: Editorial Espacios, 1952); I. E. Myers, Mexico’s Modern Architecture (New York: Architectural Book, 1952); Sociedad de Arquitectos Mexicanos, 4000 años de arquitectura mexicana (Mexico City: Libreros Mexicanos Unidos, 1956); Hans Beacham, The Architecture of Mexico, Yesterday and Today (New York: Architectural Book Pub. Co., 1969).

  • 16. Israel Katzman, La arquitectura contemporánea mexicana; precedentes y desarrollo (Mexico City: Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, 1964).

  • 17. Fernando González Gortázar, La arquitectura mexicana del siglo XX. Mexico City: ConsejoNacional para la Cultura y los Artes, 1996.

  • 18. Enrique Yañez, Del Funcionalismo al Post-racionalismo: ensayo sobre la arquitectura contemporánea en México (Mexico City: Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana Azcapotzalco-CYAD, Departamento de Medio Ambiente: Limusa, 1990.)

  • 19. Leonardo Diaz Borioli, “Frampton’s Critical Regionalism Reconsidered: The ‘Mexican’ Barragán and ‘Metropolitan’ Theories,” in Architecture and Identity, eds. Peter Herrle and Erik Wegerhoff (Berlin: Lit Verlag Dr. W. Hopf, 2008), 243–250; Sussane C. Dussel and José Morale-Saravia, “The ‘Own’ and the ‘Foreign:’ Architecture and the Discourses on Identity in 20th-Century Mexico,” in Constructing Identity in Contemporary Architecture, Case Studies from the South, eds. Peter Herrle and Stephanus Schmitz (Berlin: Lit. Verlag Dr. W. Hopf, 2009), 87–150.

  • 20. Keith Eggener, Luis Barragán’s Gardens of El Pedregal (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2001).

  • 21. See also Diaz Borioli, “Collective Autobiography: Building Luis Barragán” (PhD diss. Princeton University, 2015).

  • 22. Felipe Correa and Carlos Garciavelez Alfaro, Mexico City: between Geometry and Geography (Novato, CA: Applied Research and Design Publishing, 2014); Tenorio Trillo, I Speak of the City: Mexico City at the Turn of the Twentieth Century (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012); Megalopolis: la Modernización de la Ciudad de México en el Siglo XX, ed. Peter Krieger (Mexico City: Universidad Nacional Autónoma, Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, 2006); and The Mexico City Reader, ed. Rubén Gallo (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2004).

  • 23. Vera S. Candiani, Dreaming of Dry Land: Environmental Transformation in Colonial Mexico City (Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 2014).

  • 24. “Through Murk and Dust: Mexico’s Landscape Architects Move Onstage,” Landscape Architecture 66.8 (November 1976): 522–559.

  • 25. Rosina Greene Kirby, Mexican Landscape Architecture from the Street and from Within (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1972).

  • 26. Eggener, “Postwar Modernism in Mexico: Luis Barragán’s Jardines del Pedregal and the International Discourse on Architecture and Place,” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 58.2 (June 1999): 122–145.

  • 27. Adriana Zavala, Frida Kahlo’s Garden (New York: Del Monico Books, Prestel, 2015).

  • 28. Valerie Fraser, Building the New World: Modern Architecture in Latin America (London: Verso, 2001).

  • 29. Luis E. Carranza and Fernando Luis Lara, Modern Architecture in Latin America: Art, Technology, and Utopia (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2015).

  • 30. Del Real and Gyger, Latin American Modern Architectures: Ambiguous Territories; Jean-François Lejeune, Cruelty and Utopia: Cities and Landscapes of Latin America (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2005); and Latin America in Construction: Architecture 19551980, eds. Barry Bergdoll, Carlos Comas, Jorge Francisco Liernur, and Patricio del Real (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2015).

  • 31. Ideario de los Arquitectos Mexicanos, vols. 1–3, eds. Ramón Vargas Salguero, J.Vícotor Arias Montes (Mexico City: Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes y Literatura, 2010).