Modern Architecture in Mexico through the Eyes of Publishers

Wrriten by: Daniela Cruz | June 26, 2017

You can read this article in: Español | English

Arquitectura/México was one of the publications that had the greatest impact on the period of modern architecture in Mexico. Who edited this magazine? What themes did it address? What was its impact? Why is it important to highlight its accomplishments?

In response to the last question, the historical archive of specialist architecture journals from the 1940s-1980s, including Arquitectura and others such as Espacios and El Arquitecto, is of the greatest importance for the historical study of our field as well as its current development. They reveal the forms of thought and the directions taken by architectural creation of the time, which provides us today with knowledge for reflecting on and interpreting what is produced, and therefore the possibility of advancing in contemporary practice.

The magazine’s director, renowned Mexican architect Mario Pani, led the entire production of the magazine from 1938 to 1978, with 119 issues published. It began with the aim of disseminating international architectural culture in the print media in Mexico. However, as “good architecture” was increasingly being built locally, it shifted focus to promote Mexican practices, publishing works by Enrique del Moral, Félix Candela, Juan Sordo Madaleno, Luis Barragán, and Agustín Hernández, among many other well-known architects.

Meanwhile, the magazine’s pages also found room for the works of architects who had few opportunities to be published elsewhere, such as Manuel Rosen Morrison, Ramón Torres and Héctor Velázquez.

Every issue included sections that addressed different issues relating to architecture: Urbanism, “Decoration” (what we now call interior design), Industrial Design and Art (edited by Mathias Goeritz from issue 65), Books and Journals, and Reports and News from the field of architecture.

High-quality texts, opinion pieces and reviews of architectural works were included, many by prestigious authors. However, the magazine really stood out because of the visual material, by the best photographers of the day, including Guillermo Zamora and Armando Salas Portugal, figures we will discuss on a future occasion.

A number of special texts, such as “Notes for a Study” by José Villagrán García, “They Say About Architecture” and “Critique of Architectural Ideas”, expanded the perspective of how modern architecture was done and was perceived.

Although other print journals appeared over the 20th century that touched on the same issues, and some complained that Arquitectura/México was used to promote a number of personal interests, it succeeded in positioning itself as the magazine of record for the study of architectural modernity, as well as an inspiration for present-day and future publications.

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