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December 7, 2010

My fourth and final day in Mexico City was a real treat: the perfect blend of making a few new friends and finally clapping eyes on a building that feels like an old pal. I met up with graphic designer Alex Quinto at my hotel and we zipped (well, no one really zips in Mexico City traffic) to the house and studio of the great Mexican modernist Luis Barragan. We saw two of his designs, stopped downtown to walk around a bit more, and then met architect Lucio Muniain at his home for lunch. It was a great meal and I certainly had plenty to reflect on during my excriciatingly slow crawl to the airport for my evening flight. Have a look at the slideshow.

This is not the Barragan house or studio, just a sign in front of this wonderfully textured building. I think it's a house, but in any case it's just around the corner from the block of the Daniel Garza neighborhood where Barragan did some of his best wor
This is not the Barragan house or studio, just a sign in front of this wonderfully textured building. I think it's a house, but in any case it's just around the corner from the block of the Daniel Garza neighborhood where Barragan did some of his best work.
1 / 9
Photography inside the house and studio was strictly forbidden--nevermind that they lost our reservation, didn't know where the docent was, didn't have change for the entry fee. Photos were out. So here's a snap I took of the street-facing facade. Barraga
Photography inside the house and studio was strictly forbidden--nevermind that they lost our reservation, didn't know where the docent was, didn't have change for the entry fee. Photos were out. So here's a snap I took of the street-facing facade. Barragan's work on this block is utterly inward with a high wall blocking off the residence and garden. If you didn't know where to look you'd miss it entirely.
2 / 9
The sole proof I've got that I even made it to the place.
The sole proof I've got that I even made it to the place.
3 / 9
From the street Casa Ortega (just next door) cuts a more impressive figure. The pink walls are classic Barragan. I only got to tour the gardens of Casa Ortega because a member of the Ortega family still lives in the house. He was puttering around the hous
From the street Casa Ortega (just next door) cuts a more impressive figure. The pink walls are classic Barragan. I only got to tour the gardens of Casa Ortega because a member of the Ortega family still lives in the house. He was puttering around the house and needed a bit of sweet talking (thanks Alex) before he'd let us wander around with a guide from the house and studio. You can make out the rectangular towers Barragan liked to put on his roofs, though. The pink one belongs to Ortega and the white to the house and studio.
4 / 9
Once we got to the Centro of Mexico City, Alex and I had a quick walk around. One stop was the Palacio des Bellas Artes, notable not just for the architecture, but for a series of murals inside, including one by Diego Rivera.
Once we got to the Centro of Mexico City, Alex and I had a quick walk around. One stop was the Palacio des Bellas Artes, notable not just for the architecture, but for a series of murals inside, including one by Diego Rivera.
5 / 9
Here's a tower by Legoretta + Legoretta Architects, a Mexican firm of great repute. You can see how hazy the air is downtown in Mexico City. I wasn't really very far from this building at all when I took the photo.
Here's a tower by Legoretta + Legoretta Architects, a Mexican firm of great repute. You can see how hazy the air is downtown in Mexico City. I wasn't really very far from this building at all when I took the photo.
6 / 9
I was pretty impressed by the 18th century House of Tiles. The facade is covered with amazing tiles from Puebla, Mexico, and inside the building has a giant shop and a restaurant called Sanborn's. Alex told me it's not the best place to eat, but consideri
I was pretty impressed by the 18th century House of Tiles. The facade is covered with amazing tiles from Puebla, Mexico, and inside the building has a giant shop and a restaurant called Sanborn's. Alex told me it's not the best place to eat, but considering the beauty of the courtyard (the light was tough to get a good shot) you're paying mostly for the spectacular view.
7 / 9
For our own lunch we visited the house of architect Lucio Muniain. Alex turned me on to his work--he did Muniain's website--and it was great to see in person. Here's the big showpiece in the house, the family's collection of books and music in a sunken li
For our own lunch we visited the house of architect Lucio Muniain. Alex turned me on to his work--he did Muniain's website--and it was great to see in person. Here's the big showpiece in the house, the family's collection of books and music in a sunken living room with a dining room above. It's pretty dramatic and the living room opens on to a lovely courtyard.
8 / 9
Another great move, and one that felt very Barragan, is this ramp that leads out of the entryway upstairs. The textured concrete has a real gravity, and like Barragan, Muniain deftly uses skylights to offer all kinds of indirect light that only enhances t
Another great move, and one that felt very Barragan, is this ramp that leads out of the entryway upstairs. The textured concrete has a real gravity, and like Barragan, Muniain deftly uses skylights to offer all kinds of indirect light that only enhances the surface of the soaring concrete wall.
9 / 9
This is not the Barragan house or studio, just a sign in front of this wonderfully textured building. I think it's a house, but in any case it's just around the corner from the block of the Daniel Garza neighborhood where Barragan did some of his best wor
This is not the Barragan house or studio, just a sign in front of this wonderfully textured building. I think it's a house, but in any case it's just around the corner from the block of the Daniel Garza neighborhood where Barragan did some of his best work.

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