The history of Mexican photography has contributed to highlighting Mexico's presence in the world. Photographers like Elsa Medina, Lola Álvarez Bravo, Graciela Iturbide, Maya Goded, and Juan Rulfo have masterfully portrayed the life of the buildings, houses and the streets of a rapidly built, nineteenth-century Mexico.
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One of Mexico's greatest architects, Luis Ramiro Barragán Morfín (March 9, 1902 – November 22, 1988) revolutionized modern architecture in the country with his use of bright colors reminiscent of the traditional architecture of Mexico, and with works such as his Casa Barragán, the Chapel of the Capuchinas, the Torres de Satélite, "Los Clubes" (Cuadra San Cristobal and Fuente de los Amantes), and the Casa Gilardi, among many others.
The hyperrealistic representation of architecture is not a new concept due to the ubiquity of tools that offer the possibility of creating perplexing images with photographs. However, those who defend the expressive capacity of hand drawings have found ways to take advantage of the digital tools of the last decades to represent their architectural projects.
Visiting Mexico City several times in recent months enabled me to get to know a number of leading architects there. In the process, I was in turn directed to other architects that were new to me, whom I then discovered were, in fact, the leading and most revered architects in the country according to the local architectural community. I am particularly referring to Alberto Kalach and Mauricio Rocha, whose interviews were published in this column last year, and Benjamín Romano, whose name came up when I asked a number of architects to cite their favorite building from recent years in Mexico City. Along with the absolute favorite, Vasconcelos Library by Kalach, another structure stood out: Torre Reforma, a 57-story office tower, the tallest building in the city. The following conversation with Romano, its architect, took place inside this unusually powerful and inventive structure.
Each year the Vilcek Foundation selects American immigrant champions of the arts and sciences. This year the 2018 Vilcek Prize in Architecture was awarded to Guatemala-born, and now San Diego-based, professor and architect Teddy Cruz. Cruz uses his past experiences, living in Guatemala during its civil war, to focus his academic and professional career on shaping political and socioeconomic forces.
Spanish and Mexican architect Félix Candela is widely recognized as one of the most prominent figures in 20th century architecture. His innovative experiments with reinforced concrete produced iconic buildings deemed cascarones, or 'shell structures', such as the Pavilion of Cosmic Rays at UNAM, Mexico City (1951); the Chapel Lomas de Cuernavaca, Cuernavaca (1958); Los Manantiales Restaurant, Xochimilco (1958); and the Palace of Sports for the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City.
As part of a generation of designers that have, in recent years, put Mexico on the map, Tatiana Bilbao is an architect that is increasingly part of the profession’s global consciousness. But, while some Mexican architects have made their mark with spectacular architecture following the international trend of “iconic” architecture, Bilbao opted instead for a more people-focused approach. In this interview, the latest in Vladimir Belogolovsky’s “City of Ideas” series, Bilbao explains how she got into this type of community-building architecture, her thoughts on architectural form, and her ambitions for the future.
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