Sometimes, a creative idea can make a difference in uplifting society’s condition. And Mario Pani does just that. He is a renowned Mexican designer specializing in urban design theories. Most of his architectural influence came from different modern architects – one of which is Le Corbusier. As an active urbanist, he contributed to a vast number of projects in the country. He became one of the visionaries of his profession creating symbolic buildings that reflected Mexico’s economic success. 

Mario Pani: Philosophy and Ideology - Sheet1
A photo of Mario Pani_©

Affiliations | Mario Pani

Mario began his education in France and Mexico. It was in 1934 when he finished his studies in architecture at the School of Fine Arts in Paris, France. He eventually became the National College of Architects (Mexico) founder in 1946. In 1940-50, he became a member of the Distrito Federal (Mexico City) Planning Committee. In addition, he was a founding member of the Patronato del Museo de San Carlos, Mexico City in 1956. Mario is also a writer and became the president of Editorial de Arquitectura, S.A. in 1959-80. His achievements don’t stop there for he became an honorary member of the United States of American Institute of Architects (1964), an Honorary member of the Colegio de Arquitectos of Peru (1967), Emeritus Academic Fellow of the Sociedad de Arquitectos Mexicanos (1978), President of the Council of Honor of the Colegio de Arquitectos de Mexico and the Sociedad de Arquitectos Mexicanos (1978-80). Finally, he became a full academic member of the Academica de Artes in 1983. His hard work and determination were factors in consistently performing well and collecting these achievements. Mario’s creative pursuit catapulted him as a reputable man.

Mexican Miracle 

Mario Pani influenced a good part of Mexico city’s urban appearance. Most of his works were considered emblematic buildings and signified the golden age of Mexico. It was during this era were society thrived for an inward-looking development aiming for sustainable economic growth. The country became successful in this sustainable pursuit of stabilizing development or Desarrollo estabilizador spanning some 15 years hence the term Mexican Miracle. A few of his projects aimed to solve the housing problems of the country. 

Big Housing Tower Block Projects | Mario Pani

Mario is an advocate of the international style in architecture, mainly characterized by using glass, steel, less visible reinforced concrete, rectilinear forms, and stripped-off lavish ornamentation creating visually weightless compositions. He partook in important master planning strategies of the 20th century in Mexico using this modernist approach. 

One of his significant works is The Ciudad Satélite. Located in a residential suburb in Naucalpan de Juárez, in Mexico State, this has got to be one of Mario’s ambitious urban planning projects. It was envisioned to be a satellite city but later, became untenable due to its rapid development and increase in property prices. In a turn of events, it was saved by redefining and upgrading its brand as a cultural center – inviting more opportunities for single-family dwellings, apartment buildings, condominiums, and retail spaces as well. Mario Pani then commissioned respected architects Luis Barragan and Matias Goeritz to design a festive monument serving as a landmark of the development. 

Mario Pani: Philosophy and Ideology - Sheet2
A perspective of Torres de Satelite, entrance to the development_©Adlai Pulido
Mario Pani: Philosophy and Ideology - Sheet3
Aerial perspective of Torres de Satelite_©

The Tlatelolco Housing project is another one that showcased Mario’s strong modernist influence in design. Taking inspiration from Le Corbusier’s Radiant City concept, Mario Pani built what is known as the Unidad Habitacional Tlatelolco as a design solution for housing scarcity. The project aimed to provide necessities for a family to thrive in vertical architecture. The remaining spaces are then converted into recreational areas that people can use and enjoy. Meanwhile, horizontal areas would cater to traffic corridors accented with public landscapes. Though a utopian masterpiece, the project did not reach its best state due to various circumstances that hindered its growth. Though such the case, it is still one of Mario’s fascinating attempts at a modern city design. 

Mario Pani: Philosophy and Ideology - Sheet4
A perspective of Tlatelolco Housing Project _©
Mario Pani: Philosophy and Ideology - Sheet5
Aerial perspective of Tlatelolco Housing Project _©

Digging deeper into historical housing projects, the President Alemán Urban Housing Project was a pioneer of its kind and an exceptional work of Mario Pani. It is considered the first high-rise urban housing block. The development applied the principle of a superblock; it encompasses an approximate area of 40,000 square meters and a total of 1,080 rental apartments. Parking spaces are provided, and a central route serves as an important route for streetcar service. The housing complex is comprised of 12 buildings; six of which are 12-story levels, and the remaining are only three floors – all oriented thru north and south directions.  

A perspective of President Aleman Urban Housing Project _©
Aerial perspective of the project _©

Mario Pani is a dedicated designer with visions intended to reshape a better community for his countrymen. His ideas and creativity paved the way for unconventional building designs suited to solving housing problems during his time. These principles of urban design, prioritizing the needs and safety of the end-users without compromising creativity, became a stepping stone into a revolutionized society. His creative flare dictated unique design strategies that made an impact and challenges the standards of his time. 

Modern Mexico City Skyline _©https://www.skyscrapercenter


Architectuul. (n.d.). Mario Pani. [online] Available at: [Accessed 20 Oct. 2022].

Google Arts & Culture. (n.d.). Mexican miracle. [online] Available at: [Accessed 20 Oct. 2022].

Mallet,A.E.(2005).Mexico City: Architect Mario Pani’s Nonoalco-Tlatelolco Housing Project [Online]. Available at: [Accessed 20 Oct. 2022].

‌ The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica. “International Style | Architecture.” Encyclopædia Britannica, 18 Oct. 2016,

Pública, I. (no date) Torres de Ciudad Satélite: Urban sculpture on the edge of Mexico City, Mexico City. Available at: (Accessed: October 20, 2022). 

Noelle, Louise. “President Alemán Urban Housing Project.” Housing for All, no. 65, 2021, pp. 16–21, 10.52200/65.a.8wsjwta7. Accessed 25 Oct. 2021.


John Victor Gonzaga is a young architect practicing in the Philippines. He is a highly driven and motivated man especially when it comes to his creative pursuits. He enjoys exploring anything related to the abstract arts; few other interests include writing, painting, reading, music and travel.