One Century of Modernization in Latin America: 1880-1980

This course focuses on how the processes of modernization in Latin America affected the fields of architecture and landscape design as well as urban ideas and projects. It will start with a general geographic and historical introduction and then approach the main traits of pre-Hispanic and colonial manifestations in the aforementioned fields.

Each topic will be illustrated and analyzed through examples from each of the three periods covered in the course: 1880–1920, 1920–1945, and 1945–1980. The first can be characterized as “Modernization without Modernisms,” the second as the “Triumph of Cosmopolitan Modernisms,” and the third as the “Search for Latin American Modernism.”

Many current debates relating to architecture, the landscape, and the city were anticipated in the history of Latin America. Two such examples include the development of modernist expressions without a strong dependence on the ideological constraints shown in Brazil in the 1940s and 1950s, and the reconsideration of low-tech solutions as illustrated in the projects of the 1960s. The main objective of this course is to provide an opportunity for students to access and incorporate this history within their own thinking and practice.

Course format:

The course is taught in a lecture format accompanied by assigned readings. Students will investigate a related topic of their choice and present the research at two times during the term: at midterm (preliminary) and at the end of the semester. Students are also required to write a paper. Evaluation will be based on the treatment of the topic both in terms of the objective of the course and on the strength of the bibliographical research.

Prerequisites: None. Some knowledge of Spanish is welcome.