October 16, 2012 at 11:43 AM

‘Ricardo Legorreta and Santa Fe’

“Mexican Modernist architecture in Santa Fe…”

By Tom Maguire

Culture Vulture

Tom Maguire is a musician, arts supporter and a guy who travels the Southwest in a 13’ Scamp trailer, because he couldn’t figure out how the tent poles went together.

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I start this post with a confession: I have a passion for/obsession with great architecture. I’m the type of person who will travel to a city with a mission of seeing a specific building. It happened again last weekend. I went to Denver to see a performance by the Colorado Ballet, but one of my clear goals was to see some of the new buildings that city has erected in its cultural districts. I was not disappointed.

To see the dialogue between the thunderbolt lines of Daniel Libeskind's addition to the Denver Art Museum and the Postmodernism of Michael Graves's Public Library a block away was thrilling, though I never quite liked the quirky massing of Gio Ponti's 1971 building for that museum. However, my trip to Denver produced another example of sensitivity to the form and function balance – the work of Brad Cloepfil for the Clyfford Still Museum. Cloepfil's two-story Still museum is a calm haven for viewing the work of the pioneering Abstract Expressionist who died in 1980. Seeing this new museum structure, with its clear emphasis on the controlled natural light necessary for a museum space, reminds me why I also love the work of Renzo Piano, whose simply-designed museums allow each work of art in a museum space to breathe and speak for itself, much like the spaces created for the Kimbell Museum in Fort  Worth by Louis Kahn decades ago.

I will often travel great distances to see the work by some of the current “starchitects”: Iraqi, Zaha Hadid; Dutch architect, Rem Koolhaas; Spaniard, Santiago Calatrava and Canadian-American, Frank Gehry, among others. I have yet to see a Hadid building in person, but have seen many examples these others.

Of course I revere historic figures like Frank Lloyd Wright, Palo Soleri and Louis Kahn, but I am excited by architects working on many levels. In fact, I revere some of these others as much or more – like the Rural Studio of the late Samuel “Sambo” Mockbee in Auburn, Alabama and the contemporary architecture he and his studio created for the poor of Mississippi and Alabama

Closer to home, I admire the work of Bart Prince and Antoine Predock, both of whom use Albuquerque as the home base for their worldwide artistic enterprises. And, right here in Santa Fe, we are blessed with the works of the late Jeff Horner, whom Garrett Thornburg has honored by establishing an architecture prize in his honor and memory to recognize the unique architecture created here in the west.

Now imagine my joy at finding an entire weekend of activities across Santa Fe to honor the influence of Ricardo Legorreta's creative force on Santa Fe design. I became acquainted with the architecture of Ricardo Legorreta during the seven summers I spent in Mexico City with the Orquestra Sinfonica de Mineria. On my days off from the orchestra I became a quintessential tourist—wandering the ruins of Teotihuacan, going to the floating gardens of Xochimilco on the edge of the city or over the hills to the pristine colonial city of Cuernavaca. But I also spent many hours seeking out the architecture of Legorreta.

Winner of the Pritzker Prize, architecture’s highest honor, Legorreta has had a magnificent presence here in Santa Fe—from the art buildings on the Santa Fe University of Art and Design campus (the School of Art, the Marion Center for Photography, the Thaw Art History Center, Tipton Hall and the Santa Fe Art institute) to the Zcocalo Condominiums north of downtown nestled along the intersection of 285 and 599 and the Thornburg Campus at 599 and Ridgetop Road.

Legorreta, the architect who introduced Mexican Modernism to a global audience and who brought his crisp, brightly colored aesthetic to the Southwest, California and Santa Fe, died on December 30, 2011.

Which brings me to the subject of this focus on contemporary architecture right here at home next weekend. Specifically, the work of architect Legorreta and his influence on architecture in Santa Fe and beyond.

The weekend celebration of Legorreta‘s work, Friday and Saturday, October 19 and 20 , will include lectures, receptions, an exhibition of Legorreta's work in Santa Fe and tours of the beautiful Santa Fe Legorreta-designed buildings. And, Victor Legorreta, Ricardo's son and partner in his architectural firm Legorreta + Legorreta in Mexico City will present a short film about Legorreta's life and speak about his award-winning designs throughout the world.

Here is a list of the events:

Friday, October 19
4p.m. – Exhibition Opening/Reception, "Ricardo Legorreta and Santa Fe" curated by architect Simón De Agüero, self guided SFAI tours (SFAI)

6:p.m. – "Ricardo Legorreta's Biographical Path" video screening, Victor Legorreta presentation, Wayne Lloyd lecture ,"Experiencing the Legorreta Design Process." (Tipton Hall on the SFUAD campus)

7:30 p.m. – Dinner to celebrate Ricardo Legorreta's legacy and honor Anne and John Marion (SFAI) - $200/plate

Saturday, October 20
11a.m. – Dr. Khristaan Villela lecture, "Mexican Modernism: The Architecture of Ricardo Legorreta" (Tipton Hall on the SFUAD campus)

12 p.m. – Guided tour of SFUAD Visual Arts Center

1-5 p.m. – Self-guided tours of SFAI, SFUAD, Zocalo, and a Private Santa Fe Residence

1:45, 2:30 and 3:15 p.m. – Scheduled, guided tours of the Thornburg campus

5 p.m. – Closing Reception. (Zocalo Condominiums)

This entire two-day event is presented by The Santa Fe Art Institute, The Santa Fe University of Art and Design, Thornburg Investment Management, and Zocalo Condominiums.

For more information, please contact the SFAI at (505) 424-5050 or by email at info@sfai.org.

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