Ricardo Legorreta was one of the most influential architects of his generation. During his productive life, Ricardo Legorreta received many awards and acknowledgements on a local and international level. In 2000, Legorreta received the American Institute of Architects’ Gold Medal, the highest honor the Washington-based institute bestows upon an individual. He also served on the jury of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, which is considered the field’s most prestigious honor, from 1985 to 1993. In 2011 Legorreta was awarded the prestigious “Praemium Imperiale” of the Japan Arts Association, considering him the most important living architect. Sharing this distinction in their respective fields with Anish Kapoor, Toyo Ito, Zaha Hadid, Oscar Niemeyer, Yayoi Kusama, Frank Gehry, Norman Foster, Jasper Jones… among others.
Legorreta was born in Mexico City in 1931. In 1953, he graduated from the Universidad Autónoma de México with a degree in architecture. In college, Legorreta not only acquired architectural knowledge and academic skills, he also cultivated great interest in Mexican culture, music and heritage, which was his main source of inspiration.
After graduating, Legorreta worked in Mexico City in the office of José Vllagrán, a prestigious Mexican architect. In 1960, Legorreta established his own office. From 1977 until his death on December 30, 2011, he was the head of his own architecture office where he worked with his son who continues his father’s legacy designing buildings, furniture and decorations.
Many accredit Legorreta with “rescuing” the Mexican architectural identity during the twentieth century, bringing back the “culture of the wall”, favoring solid forms over empty spaces, the use of color to frame space, and the Latin American tendency to safeguard private space. Legorreta redefined local architecture, escaping from the architectural design that was fashionable at that time in much of Mexico and southern California.
Legorreta’s work is distinguished by his use of unique proportions, creating simple spaces and intense colors that highlight the potency of the materials and the force of the architectural elements employed.
Legorreta died in Mexico on December 2011, at age 80, leaving behind a rich heritage having achieved a language of his own, that was at the same time modern and deeply rooted in the traditions, proportions and colors of his native Mexico.