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RICARDO LEGORRETA (1931 - 2011)

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Ricardo Legorreta (May 7, Mexico City 1931 – December 30, 2011 Mexico City) graduated in 1952 from the UNAM National School of Architecture, the same city in which he was born and died. His professional work began in 1948 in the office of the architect José Villagrán. He collaborated as a draftsman and eventually became a Project Manager, becoming a Partner in 1955. From 1961 to 1963, he devoted himself to free professional activity, and in 1964, he founded Legorreta Arquitectos together with Noé Castro and Carlos Vargas Senior. Ricardo Legorreta became renowned for his creative interpretation of original Mexican architecture: vibrant colors, geometric shapes, fountains, light-filled spaces, and intimate patios are hallmarks of his style.

His career spanned over more than fifty years. He designed more than 100 projects, from museums and hotels to offices and factory buildings, university campuses, urban spaces, and private residences in Mexico and abroad.


His work was inspired not only by deep-rooted Mexican culture but also by the colonial period. Islamic architecture features in his work, as seen by the incorporation of courtyards in many of his projects. The monumental architecture of Louis Kahn, was also a great inspiration to the innovative Mexican designer. One of his first buildings, the Camino Real Hotel in Mexico City (1968), was one of his favorites; he said it helped him discover his Mexican roots. He had been very ill, and during his recovery, he created a building that is now one of his most famous works. Legorreta continued his work with the design of the Casa Montalbán in Los Angeles (1985), the Museum of Contemporary Art in Monterrey (1991), the Metropolitan Cathedral of Managua (1993), Pershing Square in Los Angeles (1993), the Central Library from San Antonio in Texas (1995), the Technological Museum of Innovation in San José, California (1998), the Visual Arts Center of the University of Santa Fe, New Mexico (1999), the Juárez Complex in Mexico City ( 2003-2005), Carnegie Mellon University of Business and Computer Science in Qatar (2009), Georgetown University School of Diplomacy in Doha, Qatar (2011), and many other public and private urban buildings and spaces.

Legorreta was an artist and designer who’s worked was always aligned to the environment. He never forgot to design buildings for the people who used them. In 1999, he received the Gold Medal from the International Union of Architects (UIA). In 2000, he became the first Latin American to receive the prestigious Gold Medal from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) for his enduring influence on the history and practice of architecture. He is the only Mexican who has received the prestigious Praemium Imperiale awarded by the Japan Art Association (2011).

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