Mexican architecture has brought many advances in construction methods and styles. With rich cultural heritage and civilizations dating back centuries, the region’s architecture is diverse, unique, and something to be admired. This Cinco de Mayo, we at Concept Design LLC would like to highlight some of the great moments in significant advancements brought forth by our neighbors. This is, of course, a summary of the styles. We strongly encourage that you do your own research and share this topic with friends and family this holiday if you find anything of interest in this article.

Cinco de Mayo

A popular misconception is that Cinco de Mayo is Mexico’s Independence Day, not the case. Another name for the holiday is “Battle of Puebla Day.” On this day, both Mexico and the US commemorate the victory outside the city of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War. The holiday commemorates an unlikely victory for an understaffed, and arguably, ragtag, Mexican army defeating French forces. Beginning in 1861, Napoleon planned to conquer Mexico as the first French Colony. A year later, on May 5th, 1862, France’s forces were met by the legendary Eastern Army and their General, Mexican politician, Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín. Consequently, this moment played a large role in preventing the French Emperor from assisting the Confederacy in the American Civil War. As a result, both Nations have many reasons to celebrate.

The ties between the United States and Mexico are undoubtedly joined through geography, culture, and economics. Though the countries have their own ways of celebrating, Cinco de Mayo is one of the many cultural ties we share. Cinco de Mayo festivities occurring north of the border often showcase Mexican cuisine, culture, and traditions (Especially in large Mexican-American populated areas). In Mexico, the celebration is far more subdued. Large celebrations take place in Puebla, but outside of the city limits, celebrations become scarce. 

Mexican Architecture in History
Palacio de Bellas Artes

The name of this historic building translates to The Palace of Fine Arts. It is a prominent cultural center in Mexico City, where it has stood since 1934. It is also known as the Cathedral of Art. The building has a storied past beginning in the late 19th century. Architect Frederico Mariscal completed the building that stands today. Under Mariscal’s supervision, the building took on a more Art Deco look than the original Art Nouveau design by Italian Architect Adamo Boari. Boari took on the project in 1904 but was unable to bring it to completion. Mariscal took on the gigantic monument.

As a result, the existing structure features a very romantic Art Nouveau exterior, harking to the past with a more modern Art Deco interior that was at its height of popularity when the building was completed. Since its completion, the Palacio de Bellas Artes has been the host to music, dance, theater, opera, and literature. The building features multiple murals painted by various influential and local artists. It included work by José Clemente Orozco, Jorge González Camarena, and Manuel Rodríguez Lozano. The building has become a cultural icon in the heart of Mexico City, exhibiting a range of artwork from classical to contemporary.

Photo By David Villasana
The Casa de los Azulejos

The house of Tiles was completed in the 18th century. With its iconic tile mosaic added in the 19th century. The baroque palace is adorned with blue and white tile from the Puebla state. The building was originally two substantial homes joined together when Graciana Suárez Peredo and the second Count del Valle de Orizaba married. The mansion features fountains as well as a stained-glass roof that was added in the 20th century. The building combines many different architectural styles, but mostly Baroque with some influences from Asia. The main stairway was painted by José Clemente Orozco (Mentioned above). It is one of his earliest works completed in 1925. The building now stands as the flagship restaurant for the chain, Sanborns. The building was declared a national monument in 1931 and last restored in 1995.

Mexico’s Architecture Today

Mexico today is a diverse region in various stages of development and urbanization. The country is taking leaps and bounds in the Architectural world in creating innovative and socially sensitive solutions to a myriad of housing and socio-economic problems. Many influential modern architects are located throughout the country. Many designers hail from Mexico City, the capital from which many new and inspiring ideas rise to global recognition.

Frida Escobedo

One notable Architect we found in our research is Frida Escobedo. Escobedo founded her design firm in 2006 and has since brought the sensitive and innovative designs to be residential and commercial buildings throughout Mexico. Their designs are thoughtful and work around new construction as well as restorations. Escobedo’s work looks to social context as inspiration and influence. Their work is world-renowned in being both interactive and accommodating to various needs.

Peoples emotions and relationships are revealed by building design.”– Frida Escobedo

Escobedo was named one of the top 30 most influential architects by archdaily.com. He inspired architects worldwide. Escobedo’s professional portfolio is as diverse as the city which she calls home. Notably, Escobedo has designed various structures from tiny homes (Look up Casa Negra) to restorations and redesigns of historic buildings, like the Hotel Boca Chica and the La Tallera Siqueiros Museum.

Mauricio Rocha

Another notable designer of Contemporary Mexican Architecture is Mauricio Rocha. A Mexico City native, Rocha studied architecture at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in the Max Cetto workshop. Rocha founded Taller De Arquitectura in 1990.

One of the firm’s most notable works that brought them to global recognition was The Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Iztapalapa. The Mexico City government commissioned the 151,000 square foot building as an educational environment for the visually impaired. Unfortunately, blindness is common in Mexico due to many individuals not having access to healthcare to treat various degenerative diseases. The structure features classrooms, a cafeteria, and a library. The building works with its surroundings to help filter light for its inhabitants, who are often in various stages of vision impairment which causes light sensitivity. The structure also blocks sound from entering the library to reduce distraction when librarians read to its visitors and an aromatic garden that enhances the other senses like touch and smell.

It is Important Not to Doubt That Architecture is Art – Mauricio Rocha
Mexico’s Influence on Historic American Architecture
Panama California Exposition

In 1915, 180,270 people flocked to The Panama California Exposition for its opening day. The Exposition created a temporary metropolis in San Diego, taking inspiration from the growing missions in California and the awe-inspiring architecture of the cathedral in Mexico City. The metropolis was a place of pride in the community in its two-year operation, and some of the buildings still exist to this day.

The Exposition was to celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal. The fair was held year-round, unlike other world fairs. They promoted agriculture to the area and a promising future for the young San Diego that had been a part of Mexico until 1848 when it was surrendered to the U.S. Thousands of Mexicans, as part of the treaty Guadalupe Hidalgo, became American citizens and brought their culture along with them. When looking for inspiration for the Expo, designers looked to their southern neighbors to find a notable (albeit appropriated) identity for the parkland.

The fair drew the spotlight to its gardens and architectural styling that spanned over 640 acres. Many of the buildings were not intended to be permanent fixtures. Still, they were constructed with staff plaster (an artificial stone made of powdered gypsum and plaster of Paris) on virtually no foundation. The buildings were admired and ended up being saved, restored, and reconstructed over the years. The area is now called Balboa Park’s National Historic Landmark District.

Museum of Us
California Tower / Photo By Remy Hellequin

The Museum of Man can be traced back to its origins in the Panama-California Exposition in 1915 as the entrance point of the Expo. The gothic-style building was designed with architectural cues inspired by Mexican churches. Also known as the California Quadrangle, it is one of the buildings designed by American architect Bertram G. Goodhue (architect of the California Tower, one of the most distinguished landmarks in San Diego). The tower had been closed for 80 years before its reopening in 2015 for the centennial of the Panama-California Exposition.

Man of Museum / Photo by Pixbay
Casa Del Prado

The Casa del Prado, also known as the Casa, and the Casa del Prado Theatre are reconstructions of buildings from the 1915 Panama-California Exposition. The Casa del Prado Theatre was completed in 1971. The design came from an altered reconstruction of the largest temporary exhibition hall built in 1914 for the Panama-California Exposition of 1915-1917. Carleton Winslow designed the original building, inspired by 18th-century buildings in Queretaro, Mexico. The building’s exterior was designed as a part of a romantic and idealized evocation of a Spanish Colonial city.

Casa Del Prado / Photo By Leslie Ye
Local Ties
Mount Baker Theater

Built in 1927, 10 years after the San Diego Exposition ended, The Mount Baker Theater was designed by architect R.C. Reamer for 20th Century Fox Studios. One of many elaborate silent movie theaters that were erected in the 1920s. The building’s overall architecture was heavy. It was influenced by both Mayan and Aztec styles that were gaining popularity. Though far from the state’s southern borders, its influence has been carried to the farthest northwestern corner of the United States. The local Bellingham theater takes on many architectural nods from the Haciendas of Mexico. Its sprawling nature and terracotta roof make the building stand out amongst its brick-clad neighbors. It can be argued that the tower on the building (that once served as an advertisement for the theater for being the tallest structure in town) reflects the many Cathedrals found in Mexico.

Though out Bellingham, you can find Architecture Influenced by the Aztecs, including the Beau Arts Building on Cornwall Avenue. With its patterned crown masonry depicting stylized flora in traditional Aztec style.

This Cinco De Mayo, we invite you to explore your local neighborhood…

 

Let’s Make Your New Home!

Inspiration, it’s all around us—every building design, every space, even in the trees, rocks, and flowers outside. We are passionate about honoring the architectural trends of the past. And innovating new and unique ideas for the future. Therefore, by using Building Information Modeling software, we can quickly and accurately design a virtual model of a proposed residence, office space, or other buildings for you to view and explore. After, making changes to those models is quick. We look forward to every challenge along the way. And are ready to help you bring your concepts into design and reality!

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