Date of Award

2021

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Architecture

First Advisor

David Leatherbarrow

Abstract

In 1961, Mexican President Adolfo López Mateos launched a program that at- tempted to reinvigorate and develop the northern borderland region of México. The Programa Nacional Fronterizo (National Border Program, PRONAF) sought, among its established goals, to: “improve the general environment of the border cities… Promote the constant raising of the cultural standards of the population…and stress the values of our history, folklore, language, culture and arts.” Through projects of urban beautifica- tion, it would build the entrance gates of the country, and civic, cultural and commercial centers that would attract and maintain a certain type of tourism.

I argue that Mario Pani’s master plans not only sought to exalt Mexico’s national identity through an architecture, at once both modern and yet appearing to be linked to an indigenous past; but that the few actual built projects were an architecture of hybrid- ity, that of resistance to, and assimilation of, the post-war American way of life in the midst of Cold War politics. While the Mexican centralist government wanted to prevent the Americanization of the borderlands by building the last cultural frontline that would remind fronterizos of their mexicanidad, it also wanted to build “the biggest storefront” that, by leveraging on the purchasing power of its northern neighbor, would allow Méxi- co to be seen as an equal participant in the new world economy.

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Available to all on Saturday, May 11, 2024

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