Modern Architecture in Latin America

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Modern Architecture in Latin America

Art, Technology, and Utopia

By Luis E. Carranza and Fernando Luiz Lara; foreword by Jorge Francisco Liernur

Designed as a survey and focused on key examples and movements arranged chronologically from 1903 to 2003, this is the first comprehensive history of modern architecture in Latin America in any language.

January 2015


33% website discount price


8.5 x 11 | 464 pp.

ISBN: 978-0-292-75865-0


33% website discount price


8.5 x 11 | 464 pp.

ISBN: 978-0-292-76297-8

Modern Architecture in Latin America: Art, Technology, and Utopia is an introductory text on the issues, polemics, and works that represent the complex processes of political, economic, and cultural modernization in the twentieth century. The number and types of projects varied greatly from country to country, but, as a whole, the region produced a significant body of architecture that has never before been presented in a single volume in any language. Modern Architecture in Latin America is the first comprehensive history of this important production.

Designed as a survey and focused on key examples/paradigms arranged chronologically from 1903 to 2003, this volume covers a myriad of countries; historical, social, and political conditions; and projects/developments that range from small houses to urban plans to architectural movements. The book is structured so that it can be read in a variety of ways—as a historically developed narrative of modern architecture in Latin America, as a country-specific chronology, or as a treatment of traditions centered on issues of art, technology, or utopia. This structure allows readers to see the development of multiple and parallel branches/historical strands of architecture and, at times, their interconnections across countries. The authors provide a critical evaluation of the movements presented in relationship to their overall goals and architectural transformations.

Foreword by Jorge Francisco Liernur
(Notes toward an) Introduction
1903. Francisco Pereira Passos begins a project to “civilize” Rio de Janeiro by applying Baron Haussmann’s ideas as an answer to the tropical (lack of) urbanism.
1904. Víctor Meano, Francisco de Oliveira Passos, and Emile Jéquier build a Latin American character with a classical vocabulary.
1906. Julián García Núñez’s Hospital Español defines a characteristic search for a new language: Secession/Art Nouveau.
1914. Jesús T. Acevedo and Federico Mariscal lecture in Mexico on the character, importance, and role of the Spanish colonial legacy.
1915. Antonin Nechodoma introduces the Prairie style to Puerto Rico.
1922. In an attempt to create a building expressive of the “cosmic race,” José Vasconcelos inaugurates in Mexico City the headquarters of the Secretaría de Educación Pública and formalizes the muralist project.
1923. Mario Palanti: Palacio Barolo and Palacio Salvo
1924. Martín Fierro presents Alberto Prebisch and Ernesto Vautier’s Ciudad Azucarera en Tucumán and formalizes the connections and interests in architecture among the literary and artistic avant-gardes.
1925. Modern architecture begins with Gregori Warchavchik and Rino Levi publishing manifestos on the new architecture; catching up to the 1922 Semana de Arte Moderna.
1925-A. Estridentópolis en 1975: Literary Architecture and the Avant-Garde
1925-B. José Villagrán García, Instituto de Higiene y Granja Sanitaria
1928. The Columbus Memorial Lighthouse Competition sparks an investigation into what architecture for Latin America should be like.
1929-A. The Ibero-American Exhibition opens in Seville, revealing the complex and contradictory relations between Spain and its former American colonies.
1929-B. Le Corbusier’s first encounters with South America: lectures and early projects for Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay
1929-C. With the History of the Skyscraper, Francisco Mujica articulates the skyscraper’s Latin American dimension.
1929. Sergio Larraín and Jorge Arteaga’s Oberpauer Building initiates a new direction in Chilean architecture.
1930-A. Getúlio Vargas takes power in Brazil and appoints twenty-eight-year-old Lúcio Costa as director of the Escola Nacional de Belas Artes (ENBA).
1930-B. Commemorating the centenary of its independence, Uruguay takes the first Soccer World Cup at home, and Montevideo is at the center of its modern ambitions.
1930. Flávio de Carvalho, “City of the Naked Man”
1931. Juan O’Gorman, Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Houses and Studios
1933. In his Pláticas sobre arquitectura lecture, Juan O’Gorman highlights the existing polemics between functionalism and academic architecture.
1936. Le Corbusier is back in Rio de Janeiro.
1936-A. The Kavanagh Building is finished, becoming the tallest skyscraper in Latin America.
1936-B. Francisco Salamone: Fascism and Monumental Architecture in the Pampa
1936-C. Julio Vilamajó, School of Engineering
1937. Wladimiro Acosta’s Vivienda y ciudad highlights the relationship between ecology, new forms of leisure, the house, and the city.
1937. Cine Gran Rex and Argentine Classicist Modernism
1938. Characteristic of the growing reach of surrealism into architecture and Latin America, the Chilean architect-trained artist Matta publishes “Sensitive Mathematics—Architecture of Time” in Minotaure.
1938. Joaquín Torres-García, Monumento cósmico, Montevideo, Uruguay
1939. The European diaspora brings architectural talents to Latin America on an unprecedented scale.
1939. The Brazilian pavilion at New York World’s Fair
1941. Pampulha represents an encounter that would change the future of Brazil.
1942. Amancio Williams, Casa sobre el Arroyo
1943-A. The Brazil Builds exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York highlights the architectural and political interests of U.S. relations with Brazil.
1943-B. Town Planning Associates (TPA) is commissioned to design a new Brazilian town around an airplane factory, Cidade dos Motores. This will be the beginning of TPA’s involvement with Latin America that will include not only plans for Chimbote, Peru, but also master plans for Medellín and Bogotá, Colombia, and Havana, Cuba.
1944. Henry Klumb moves to Puerto Rico and formalizes investigations of modern architecture in the tropics.
1945. Antoni Bonet, Punta Ballena, Uruguay
1946. Affonso Reidy’s Popular Housing Blocks
1947-A. Luis Barragán and Max Cetto, the émigré German architect, begin working on the design of the first houses in Mexico City’s Jardines del Pedregal subdivision.
1947-B. Seeking to symbolize postwar efficiency and organization, Latin American cities embrace the North American “architecture of bureaucracy.”
1947-A. Oscar Niemeyer sketches the UN building in New York but takes no credit.
1947-B. Mario Pani—Multifamiliares
1947-C. Agrupación Espacio
1949. La ciudad frente al río is released, showing the transformations of Le Corbusier’s plan for Buenos Aires.
1950. Public housing reaches a monumental scale: Mario Pani, Carlos Raúl Villanueva, Affonso Reidy, Oscar Niemeyer.
1951-A. Carlos Raúl Villanueva, Villanueva Residence
1951-B. PROA magazine publishes Arquitectura en Colombia, articulating an identity that survived the second half of the century.
1951-C. Lina Bo Bardi inaugurates her Casa de Vidro.
1952. The debates of plastic integration, modern architecture, and the development of new city forms come to the forefront in two major universities: the UNAM in Mexico City and the Universidad Central in Caracas, Venezuela. The first exemplifies figurative, legible, and socially conscious art; the second, abstraction.
1952. Eladio Dieste, Iglesia de Cristo Obrero, Atlántida, Uruguay
1953-A. Affonso Reidy: halfway between the Carioca school and the Paulista school
1953-B. El Eco Experimental Museum in Mexico City opens its doors, advocating for an “emotional architecture.”
1953-C. Max Bill’s critique of the São Paulo Biennial has a significant impact in Brazil: Oscar Niemeyer writes a “mea culpa,” Sérgio Bernardes invests in designing a technological utopia, and João Filgueiras Lima devotes his life to prefabrication.
1953-A. Félix Candela, Church of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, Mexico City
1953-B. Mario Roberto Álvarez, Teatro General San Martín, Buenos Aires
1954. Le Corbusier, Curutchet House, La Plata, Argentina
1955. Eladio Dieste—Tectonics driving the accidental architect
1955-A. Fruto Vivas, Club Táchira
1955-B. The Helicoide in Caracas: The Ultimate Parking and Shopping Center
1955-C. Gio Ponti, Villa Planchart
1956. Brasília: A modernist utopia?
1957-A. Mies van der Rohe, Bacardí Buildings for Havana, Cuba, and Mexico City
1957-B. Lina Bo Bardi, São Paulo Museum of Art
1959. The appeal of Corbusian monumentality and béton brut: Clorindo Testa’s Government Building in La Pampa and, with SEPRA, the Bank of London and South America in Buenos Aires
1961-A. Fidel Castro, in conversation with Ernesto “Che” Guevara, decides to convert a golf course into art schools in Cuba.
1961-B. João Batista Vilanova Artigas and Paulo Mendes da Rocha articulate the Paulista school: free ground plan, generous social spaces, and opaque envelopes.
1961. João Batista Vilanova Artigas, School of Architecture and Planning, University of São Paulo
1962. Nelson Bayardo, Columbarium, Montevideo
1963. In Bogotá, Rogelio Salmona takes old bricks to a new dimension in Torres del Parque.
1964-A. The military dictatorship ends Delfim Amorim and Acácio Gil Borsoi’s investigations into an architecture for the Brazilian northeast.
1964-B. Pedro Ramírez Vázquez, Museo Nacional de Antropología, Mexico City
1964-C. Martín Correa and Gabriel Guarda, Las Condes Benedictine Monastery Chapel
1965-A. Parque do Flamengo: Roberto Burle Marx redefines the Brazilian landscape by rediscovering the country’s own local species.
1965-B. The (re)invention of Curitiba: from the plan of Jorge Wilheim to the implementation by Jaime Lerner
1965. Juan Borchers, Cooperativa Eléctrica de Chillán, Chile
1966. United Nations as client and advocate: Emilio Duhart’s CEPAL Building in Santiago
1967. Hélio Oiticica builds Tropicália, challenging the traditional boundaries between art, popular culture, construction, and architecture.
1967. Jesús Tenreiro-Degwitz—Venezuelan Postmodernism
1968. The Olympic Games provide Mexico City with opportunities for new forms of national representation through architecture; deadly student protests highlight the contested use of public space.
1969-A. Inventing new educational paradigms, Alberto Cruz Covarrubias and Godofredo Iommi (poetically) found the Ciudad Abierta in Chile.
1969-B. PREVI: Two opposing governments in Peru bring in the best architects in the world to address squatter settlements.
1969. Francisco Bullrich publishes on Latin American architecture.
1971. Formalizing the legacy of the Madí (Movimiento de Arte de Invención) and utopian urban projects, Gyula Kosice proposes a hydrospatial city.
1971. National Theater, Guatemala
1974. Teaching under duress: La Escuelita, dictatorship, and postmodernism in Argentina
1975. Filgueiras Lima, Capela do Centro Administrativo da Bahia
1976. Mexican postmodernism: Teodoro González de León’s Colegio de México expresses modern architecture’s new historicizing sensibilities.
1977-A. Éolo Maia, Capela de Santana ao Pé do Morro
1977-B. Bruno Stagno House, Costa Rica
1979. Pampulha magazine is launched in Minas Gerais, marking the beginning of Brazilian postmodernism.
1980. The Pritzker Architecture Prize is awarded to Luis Barragán, and photography is at the center of the myth.
1983. Niemeyer returns to Rio de Janeiro to design the Sambódromo and the CIEPs: architecture gets closer to popular needs.
1983-A. Ramón Gutiérrez publishes Arquitectura y urbanismo en Iberoamérica.
1983-B. Severiano Porto, Balbina Environmental Protection Center, Brazil
1985-A. In the midst of a “not-so-lost” decade ...
1985-B. Lina Bo Bardi and the SESC Pompéia inaugurate an interest in adapting existing structures.
1988. Brazilian Museum of Sculpture
1990. Chilean postmodernism is challenged by José Cruz and Germán del Sol.
1991. Angelo Bucci and Alvaro Puntoni win the competition for the Brazilian pavilion at Seville Expo 1992, marking the end of the postmodern reign and the beginning of neomodernism.
1993. Pablo Beitia, Xul Solar Museum (Pan Klub Foundation)
1994-A. Quae sera tamen: Architecture for the Favelas
1994-B. As a model for internationalization, NAFTA becomes emblematic of the new character of late-twentieth-century Mexican architecture.
1997. Smiljan Radic, Charcoal Burner’s Hut
2000. Colombian Renaissance: In Bogotá and Medellín, mayors and architects work together to create better cities.
2000. Alberto Kalach, GGG House, Mexico City
2001. Solano Benítez’s Tomb for His Father, Paraguay
2002. Rafael Iglesia, Pavilions at Parque Independencia
Provocations for a Conclusion: Islands No More
Illustration Credits

Luis E. Carranza is Professor of Architecture at Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island. He is the author of Architecture as Revolution: Episodes in the History of Modern Mexico, and he has published and lectured nationally and internationally on Latin American modern architecture, focusing primarily on Mexico.

Fernando Luiz Lara is Associate Professor of Architecture at the University of Texas at Austin, where he serves as Chair of the Brazil Center at the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies. He is the author of The Rise of Popular Modernist Architecture in

"This is the most comprehensive theory and practice (and even built-environment policy) survey of twentieth-century Latin American architecture ever attempted. I believe it will be a very important contribution to the field. . . . The book contains an erudite and discriminating collection of writings and projects."
―Rafael Longoria, ACSA Distinguished Professor of Architecture, University of Houston, and coeditor of AULA: Architecture and Urbanism in Las Américas

"It is no small task to write a history of modern architecture of the vast region known as Latin America and the Caribbean. . . . This project required collecting and organizing the information currently scattered in a series of books and journals, with some areas well represented (Mexico and Brazil in the lead) and others barely documented (Central America and Bolivia, for example). Not only is this book commendable, it is also timely, given the growing interest in the region on the part of scholars, professionals, and educators."
―Patricia Morgado, Associate Professor of Architecture, North Carolina State University

"This title is highly recommended for anyone studying the evolution of modern architecture in Latin America during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Well written and filled with carefully chosen examples, it goes beyond typical information or notable architects. The book serves both as an overview as well as an informative analysis of people, events and movements in Latin America over the course of the last hundred years."
―Barbara Opar, ARLIS/NA Reviews

Runner-up, 2015 University Co-op Robert W. Hamilton Book Award