Survey of Modernism in Mexico, Part 1: A Revolutionary Movement

The indigenous people of Mexico created some of the most impressive and distinctive ancient architecture in the world, but the country suffered something of an identity crisis after its colonization in the 1500s. For several hundred years, the architecture and arts of Mexico were predominantly shaped by European leaders and influencers. That is, until the Mexican Revolution of 1910.

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Monument to the Revolution in Mexico City, designed by Émile Bénard and Carlos Obregón Santacilia in 1911. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

By the time the revolution ended in 1917, a new government and intense national pride called for revolutionary ideals in architecture, art, and culture. Architects like Luis Barragán and Felix Candela introduced ideas of modernism to a society that was hungry for a beautiful change. From the 1920s onward, the face of Mexico began to change as government agencies and the wealthy private sector commissioned new architecture in both International and Modern styles, all while maintaining a distinctly Mexican approach. The movement grew and thrived as Mexico was transformed from a beaten-down people into one of the most successful and advanced countries in Latin America.

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Centro Urbano Presidente Miguel Alemán in Mexico City, designed by Mario Pani and Salvador Ortega Flores – 1947. Photo courtesy of Arquine.

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Casa Avenida Conscripto 100 in Mexico City, designed by Juan Sordo Madaleno in 1953. Photo courtesy of Sordo Madaleno Architectos.

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Casas gemelas para ingenieros azucareros in Veracruz, México by Felipe Salido Torres and el Ing. Joachim Aguerrebere – 1955. Photo courtesy of Una Vida Moderna.

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Iglesia de la Santa Cruz in San Luis Postosi, México by Enrique de la Mora and Félix Candela – 1967. Photo courtesy of Una Vida Moderna.

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Estadio Deportivo de Ciudad Universitaira in Mexico City, designed by Augusto Pérez Palacios, Jorge Bravo y Raúl Salinas – 1949. Image courtesy of the Archivos de Arquitectos Mexicanos, UNAM.

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Cuadra San Cristóbal in Mexico City by Luis Barragán – 1968.  Photo courtesy of the Wall Street Journal.

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Los Manantiales in Mexico City by Felix Candela – 1958. Photo courtesy of Archdaily. 

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Los Manantiales in Mexico City by Felix Candela – 1958. Photo courtesy of Archdaily. 

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Centro Nacional de Investigación y Enseñanza Agrícola in Chapingo, México by Augusto H Álvarez – 1967. Photo courtesy of Una Vida Modernica.

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Casa Gómez in Jardines del Pedregal, México by Francisco Artigas – 1952. Photo courtesy of La Forma Moderna en Latino America.

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House in Lomas de Chapultepec, Mexico by Juan Sordo Madaleno – 1949. Photo by Guillermo Zamora.

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Teatro Cuauhtémocin Juárez, México by Alejandro Prieto Posada – 1963. Photo courtesy of Una Vida Moderna.

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Entrance to the Laboratorios Lederle in Coyoacán, México by Felix Candela – 1956.  Photo courtesy of Una Vida Moderna.

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Biblioteca Central de Ciudad Universitaria in Mexico City by Juan O’ Gorman Colaborador, Gustavo Saavedra, and Juan Martínez de Velasco. 1950. Image courtesy of the Archivos de Arquitectos Mexicanos, UNAM.

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Automex Factory in Lerma, México by Ricardo Legorreta Colaborador – 1963. Photo by Kati Horna.

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July 28th, 2016|0 Comments

The Frank Lloyd Wright Legacy, Part 4: Heloise Crista

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Heloise Crista in costume of her own design, 1958. Photo by John Engstead.

Architecture is, first and foremost, an art. It is unique in the fact that a creative and free-thinking mindset must be bolstered by technical skill and an understanding of engineering; but an art, nevertheless. Frank Lloyd Wright understood the importance of arts as a whole, and so hosted music, art, and dance festivals regularly at his Taliesin schools. It was this aspect that originally attracted Heloise Crista, who was, at that time, a dancer.

Crista came to Taliesin West in the late 1940s to design costumes and choreography for the music and dance festivals held there. She quickly became entranced with the creative atmosphere and began experimenting with different mediums. Crista began working with bronze in the mid-50s and her first major work was a bust of Frank Lloyd Wright, which still resides at the school today.

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Frank Lloyd Wright Bust, 1956. Photo courtesy of AZ Central.

Although Crista did not fully embrace her art career until many years later in 1978, her sculptures quickly gained fame and popularity. Her work is now highly-sought-after and exhibits around the world. The artist continues to live, work, and teach at Taliesin West.

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‘Aiming for the Mark’ in cast bronze. Photo courtesy of Dial R for Retro.

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Being in the Moment’ in cast Bronze. Photo courtesy of Safety 3rd.

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Sculpture Garden at Taliesin West, all by Heloise Crista. Photo courtesy of Mary Loudriedger.

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‘Coming into the Present’ in cast bronze, 2002. Photo courtesy of Travel with Intent.

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‘Solar Wind’ in cast bronze, 1992. Photo courtesy of Monceau on Flickr.

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‘St. Elizabeth Ann Seton’ in cast bronze. Photo courtesy of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church.

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‘Sacred Energy’ in cast bronze. Photo courtesy of Transplanted Tatar.

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‘The Guardian’ in cast bronze. Photo courtesy of Tom Greene on Flickr.

 

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July 21st, 2016|0 Comments

Art Watch: The Architecture of William F. Cody

Starting this week, LA’s Architecture and Design Museum is putting on the first comprehensive overview of William F. Cody’s architecture based on primary archival research. It is a tribute to one of the giants of the midcentury modern movement and celebrates Cody’s centennial.

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Cody’s projects were published internationally, and he was widely acknowledged as a forward-thinking, urbane architect who merged luxury with technology to achieve a high-style experimental modernism. A master renderer with an eye for art and interior design, Cody also pushed the boundaries of engineering and space planning. His career ended early when he died at the age of 62, at the prime of his practice. With the recent reassessments of midcentury architecture that embrace a broad understanding of modern design—from dynamic planning to rich interior decoration—Cody’s work is increasingly recognized as a formative contribution to architectural history.

The exhibit is on view at the A+D museum from July 10 – Sept. 25th during the museum’s regular business hours.  Find out more here.

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July 15th, 2016|0 Comments

Modernism in America Awards 2016

Docomomo US has announced the winners of its 2016 Modernism in America Awards, which honor projects around the country that highlight and advocate for the restoration of postwar architecture and landscapes. See a few of them below, or read more on Docomomo US.

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Mellon Square in Pittsburg, designed by Simonds & Simonds, (Landscape Architects) and Mitchell & Ritchey (Architects) in 1955. Photo by Ed Massery.

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Frederick and Harriet Rauh Residence in Ohio, designed by John Becker in 1938. Photo courtesy of the Cincinnati Preservation Association.

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Margaret Esherick House in Philadelphia, designed by Louis Khan in 1961. Photo by Jeffrey Totaro.

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The Met Breuer in New York City, designed by Marcel Breuer in 1966. Photo by Peter Aaron.

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The Shepley Bulfinch Architecture Firm Office in Phoenix, AZ. Designed by W. A. Sarmiento. Photo by Nic Lehoux.

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Tower of Hope, Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove, CA. Designed by Richard Neutra in 1961. Photo by Christian Costea Photography.

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July 8th, 2016|0 Comments

Inspire Me Monday: Works of Alvaro Siza

“Every design is a rigorous attempt to capture a concrete moment of a transitory image in all its nuances. The extent to which this transitory quality is captured, is reflected in the designs: the more precise they are, the more vulnerable.” – Architect Alvaro Siza

Siza was born in the small town of Porto, Portugal in 1933. His work ranges from stark minimalism to quirky contemporary; he still lives and practices in Porto today.

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Tolo House in Ribeira da Pena District, Portugal – 2005. Photo by Fernando Guerra

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Adega Mayor Winery in Brazil, 2007. Photo courtesy of Adega Mayor.

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Leça Swimming Pools in Leça de Palmeira, Portugal – 1966. Photo courtesy of Archdaily.

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Manhattan Condominium 611 West 56th Street – 2016. Photo courtesy of Dezeen.

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The Building on the Water in Jiangsu Province, China – 2013. Photo by Fernando Guerra

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The Building on the Water in Jiangsu Province, China – 2013. Photo by Fernando Guerra

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The Building on the Water in Jiangsu Province, China – 2013. Photo by Fernando Guerra

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Iberê Camargo Foundation in Brazil – 2003. Photo courtesy of Fernando Guerra.

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Expo ’98 Portuguese National Pavilion. Photo courtesy of Archdaily.

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Boa Nova Tea House in Matosinhos, Portugal – 1953. Photo courtesy of Archdaily.

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Boa Nova Tea House in Matosinhos, Portugal – 1953. Photo courtesy of Archdaily.

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Auditorium Theatre of Llinars del Valles in Barcelona – 2015. Photo courtesy of Archdaily.

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Amore Pacific Research & Design Center in South Korea, 2010. Photo by Fernando Guerra.

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Meteorological Center in Barcelona, Spain – 1992. Photo courtesy of ‘Alvaro Siza. Complete Works’ by Phillip Jodidio.

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Anyang Pavilion in South Korea, 2006. Photo courtesy of Alvaro Siza.

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Amore Pacific Research & Design Center in South Korea, 2010. Photo by Fernando Guerra.

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Mimesis Museum in South Korea, 2006. Photo by Fernando Guerra.

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Casa de Pego in Sintra, Portugal – 2008. Photo by Fernando Guerra.

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July 4th, 2016|0 Comments