Mario Pani Darqui (1911–1993) was the most prominent Mexico City architect and urbanist of the 20th century. His work is visible across almost every aspect of the City's look, style, and feel.
Beginning in 1936, his career lasted some 50 years. Having created many of the most recognizable buildings in Mexico City, the scale of the projects he undertook is nothing short of Faustian. The close contact he kept with the government only sealed the bargain. And missteps that led to the collapse of many of his most prominent works only drive the comparison home.
The 1985 earthquakes directly caused the collapse of many of the giant apartment blocks at Tlatelolco and at the Centro Urbano Benito Juárez. Pani's enormous stature and public reputation crashed along with his buildings. The loss of human life was tremendous.
Nevertheless, the mark he made on the very look and feel of Mexico City is still with us today. And a close look at Mario Pani, his work, his successes and failures, seems to only emphasize our own skepticism and disillusionment with the Modernist project that defined so much of the 20th century.