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Mexico's Mid-Century Modern

Mexico's Mid-Century Modern is among the City's most prominent and enduring architectural and design styles. Although the movement is equally prominent in furniture and interior design, when you visit a city, you expect to see architecture.

The movement begins in the 1930s with the "Functionalism" that had arrived in gale force from Europe, arriving here as it had in Brazil. Over the decades from the the mid-1930s onward, this spare, function-only design tendency took root. And many of the strongest examples of the trend are still well-preserved and in use, and not just in Mexico City's distinct religious architecture from the same period.

Under the auspices of master-architect and UNAM architecture director, José Villagrán García, futuristic and still-functional public works took flight. This was especially true in Villagrán's early hospital designs that met the immediate needs of the inter-war period. But the same grace and fluidity of line was later adapted to the revolution in housing that the growing city demanded. Perhaps most interestingly, the Modernism of Mexico City's Mid-Century also grabbed onto the Neo-Indigenism of the late 19th century. Re-used, re-interpreted, and re-adapted, today it's more a part of "What Mexico City Looks Like" than ever before.

While much of the world abandoned the mega-projects of the mid-20th century, Mexico City adapted them. In many cases, they've been preserved simply because they were too beautiful - and too culturally important - to leave to the ravages of time.

Health, Housing, Culture: these are bedrock principles of Mexico City's democracy - even today. Mexico City's Mid-Century is not the curious trend of an otherwise superfluous design world. It's a living part of what Mexico City's past promised to its future. And it's still coming to be.

Below are just some of the strongest examples of buildings and bigger urban projects from the time. They can all be visited unless otherwise noted.

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