Light belongs to the heart and spirit. Light attracts people, it shows the way and shows the way and when we see it in the distance, we follow it.

–  Ricardo Legoretta

Ricardo Legoretta Vilchis was a Mexican architect who was prominent in cubist designs across the world. He was born in 1931 in Mexico City and graduated in architecture in 1953 from the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico. Legoretta worked with Jose Villagran Gracia for 10 long years before setting up his firm in 1963. He has completed numerous architectural, interior, and landscaping projects in his 40 years long career. His projects range from private housing to libraries to museums. He received the AIA Gold medal in 2000.

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Ricardo Legoretta_©e-architect.com

Belonging to the first generation of postrevolutionary architects, Legoretta showcased Mexican modernism to the world like no other architect. Light fascinated him. He started experimenting with different effects of light and colors concerning the spatial arrangement of plain walls. Upholding Mexican traditions and culture, Legoretta manipulated light into changing the ambiance of a certain space. Being a disciple of Luis Barragan, Legoretta carried his ideology and philosophy and served it to a wider realm. Through his architectural journey, he developed his architectural vocabulary while retaining elements of Barragan’s style. The assembly of walls, scale, light, geometry, and emotion in a bold manner collectively came to be known as the Legoretta style. The use of brightly colored solid walls became his signature mark. He believes that color is a symbol of our emotions, and it connects us to the architecture around us. Legoretta says that the most important element in architecture is the people who live in it, and he never falters in his philosophy. Geometric shapes are the foundation of his designs. Ricardo Legoretta is very well known for his ability to develop spaciousness from moderate spaces.

His philosophy and ideas can be understood better as we look at a few of his projects here. The Zocalo, a condominium project was something he had never done before. He designed it in such a way that the ridges and topography of the land created different spatial experiences. He envisioned a community that bonds together through the simplicity of spaces, the bright colors, the light, and inspired architectural design. The combination of modern elements with traditional Pueblo Indian architecture on the steep slopes of Mexico creates a dramatic space. The traditional features such as the flat roof, stucco surfaces, and simple window openings create its architectural identity.

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Zocalo condominium_©zocalosf.com
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Zocalo condominium_©zocalosf.com

The Westin resort and spa in Cancun screams Legoretta when it comes to the spatial design and the color palette. It teaches us how to connect with spatial language and relate to the physical surroundings. He has succeeded in giving birth to a certain liberated sense of space and flow. It has an evident artistic flavor that can be savored through its sensory experience. Geometric and fundamental elements at play create a harmonious, airy, and elevated space. It has an open concept that creates an uninterrupted architecture. The lack of physical boundaries between open, semi-open, and closed spaces gives a sense of unity. The character of the buildings it hard to distinguish between open and closed spaces making it intriguing for the users. When such feelings arise in users, the space becomes memorable to them.

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Westin resort and spa_©dpadesigners.com
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Westin resort and spa_©dpadesigners.com

Located in the Fort Worth cultural district in the USA, the Fort Worth museum of science and history showcases a remarkable architectural style associated with Legoretta and Baragan. Consisting of different spaces such as the Experimental studio, Explora zone, an outdoor DinoDig, and the Museum School. He has created spaces that can be easily connected to and understood by kids. The new block that was designed by Ricardo Legoretta has bold colors. But the colors have been muted to a certain extent to blend in with the old part of the museum.

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Fort Worth museum_©archdaily.com
Fort Worth museum_©archdaily.com

We can witness hints of Moorish architecture in his buildings. The lattice moucharabieh windows, internal courtyards, or be it the Spanish colonial-type windows, there is an evident blend of other traditional styles in his modernist buildings. He once said “light symbolizes knowledge, creativity, imagination, and spirituality” and he has given the utmost importance to light ever since. His minimalist geometric designs give a certain spatial character which accompanied by the bold colors gives the whole space a definite depth. The play of light creates a dramatic effect while the fenestrations constitute a different layer in itself. Legoretta has created buildings that are celebrations on their own. Simple in terms of their design, these buildings have an evident depth to them. The architect who served Mexican modernism, bold colors, and the most basic shapes to the world most remarkably and spectacularly died in December 2011. He had continued his mentor Barragan’s legacy and now, his son Victor Legoretta Hernandez is leading his from Legoretta + Legoretta. Like shooting stars, Ricardo left his essence behind in his buildings for the world to cherish.

Citation:

  • Ricardo Legorreta dies at 80; Mexican Modernist architect (2012) Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times. Available at: https://www.latimes.com/local/obituaries/la-me-ricardo-legorreta-20120108-story.html (Accessed: December 19, 2022). 
  • (no date) Biography. Available at: http://architecture-history.org/architects/architects/LEGORRETA/biography.html (Accessed: December 19, 2022). 
  • The spatial sense and sensibility of Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta (2012) The Philosophical Traveller. Available at: https://robefish.wordpress.com/2009/05/20/the-spatial-sense-and-sensibility-of-mexican-architect-ricardo-legorreta/ (Accessed: December 19, 2022). 
  • Ricardo Legorreta (no date) zocalo. Available at: https://www.zocalosf.com/ricardo-legorreta#:~:text=Legorreta%20never%20falters%20in%20his,at%20an%20accessible%20price%20point (Accessed: December 19, 2022). 
Author

She chases colours and prints. In her pajamas and tote-bags, writing makes her bounce (and fall face front sometimes). Kind and approachable (no she shall not poke you with her fountain pen). She’s stubborn and if she’s not architecturing, you’ll find her in a kitchen cooking something witty and delicious.

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