The novelty of Modern Architecture in Mexico City lies in the way that it approaches its subject. Kathryn E. O'Rourke tells the story of key works of Mexican modernism, which sought to forge a nationally distinct language of architecture, entwined with the story of the contemporary construction of a continuously evolving narrative of a national architectural history undertaken by many of the same designers discussed. O'Rourke demonstrates how the state-commissioned historicist remaking of the buildings around the Zócalo—begun at the end of the paz porfiriana and completed in the 1930s—initiated the parallel processes of inventing a national architectural history and a modern national architecture. Emphatically displayed on facades, the characteristics of the monumental space that architects produced were more consistent with early twentieth-century histories of Mexican colonial architecture—imagined as nationally specific—than with the inherited Zócalo.

Scholarly identification of indigenous influences on colonial...

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