mexico city

Modernism South of the Border

Modernism Week highlights Mexico City’s midcentury modernism heritage to preview upcoming April trip.

Lydia Kremer Modernism

mexico city
Modernism Week presentations will include topics such as the Mayan design that influenced the architecture of Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage, including the sculptured columnar fountain placed prominently at the entrance of the estate.

While Mexico City is the oldest capital in the Americas (founded in 1325), it’s the period between the 1940s and late 1960s that most intrigues Modernism Week event organizers.

On the heels of Modernism Week’s successful featured tour to Cuba last year, organizers are gearing up for the next architectural sojourn — this time to Mexico City in April. The tour, which takes place April 8–13, will focus on Mexico City’s significant midcentury modern architecture including the residence and work of Luis Barragán, one of Mexico’s most renowned architects, as well as some UNESCO World Heritage sites.

“After the success of last year’s trip to Cuba, we realized we could explore international destinations with legendary midcentury modern architecture, including a related guided adventure,” says Mark Davis, who organized the tour. “With suggestions gleaned from the Havana travelers and the resurgence of Mexico City as an oft written destination, it seemed a logical and exciting destination to focus on. The culinary scene is exploding, architecture and design are creating quite a stir, and the world is taking notice of Mexico City again.”

And just to whet your appetite, Modernism Week’s programming in February will highlight some notable aspects of Mexico modernism.

“We hope that by educating our community about other cities and developing relationships in these foreign destinations, we can broaden our ability to highlight and protect modernist architecture globally,” Davis says. He also arranged the Mexico City Modern lecture series. “As with the Havana programing last year, a natural offshoot of the presentations will be an educational modernism architectural tour of Mexico City.”

TOP: National Autonomous University of Mexico Library.
BOTTOM: Museu Casa Estudio Diego Rivera y Frida Kahlo.

Modernism Week presentations will include topics such as:

• The Mayan design that influenced the architecture of Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage, including the sculptured columnar fountain placed prominently at the entrance of the estate.

• The stunningly modern residential designs for the exclusive midcentury Jardines del Pedregal development in Mexico City.  

• The groundbreaking graphic and design program for the 1968 Mexico City Summer Olympics.

• The UNESCO World Heritage–designated campus of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, a significant icon of Latin American modernism.

The presenters are prominent, internationally-known authors, architects, and art curators including Anne Rowe, director of collections and exhibitions at Sunnylands; Keith Eggener, the Marion D. Ross Distinguished Professor of Architectural History at the University of Oregon; architect Cristina Lopez Uribe, a professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico’s School of Architecture; and Luis M. Castaneda, an author and design essayist and recipient of the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies grant.

Modernism Week’s Mexico City Modern tour in April includes sites discussed in these presentations as well as a five-night stay at the St. Regis Hotel. More tour details are being finalized.

“Mexico City boasts centuries of history, and personal time will be included to explore some of the pre-Hispanic and Colonial Mexican highlights, however this tour will focus on midcentury and contemporary Mexican architecture,” Davis notes. “The tour will also feature private residences, artists’ studios, gardens, stunning new museums, and the homes of Luis Barragán, Juan O’Gorman, Diego Rivera, and Frida Kahlo.”

Francisco Artigas, Federico Gomez House, Gardens of El Pedregal, Mexico City.

Visit for more information on the Mexico Modern presentations, for updates on the tour, to view the full Modernism Week schedule of events, and to purchase tickets.

Lydia Kremer is a Palm Springs-based writer, publicist, and author of 100 Things to Do in Palm Springs Before You Die.