by Luis E. Carranza and Fernando Luis Lara. University of Texas Press, January 2014. 424p. ill. ISBN 97802929762978 (pbk.), $45.00; ISBN 9780292758650 (cl.), $90.00.
Reviewed May 2015
Barbara Opar, Architecture Librarian, Syracuse University Libraries, firstname.lastname@example.org
This title is highly recommended for anyone studying the evolution of modern architecture in Latin America during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Well written and filled with carefully chosen examples, it goes beyond typical information or notable architects. The book serves both as an overview as well as an informative analysis of people, events and movements in Latin America over the course of the last hundred years.
The book is written by two Latin Americanists, employing a geographical approach to tell their story, and in the forward they write that, "... 'Latin American' work is not just a building in that region of the world but rather a building that expresses this region." This distinction is important and separates the title from works like Henry-Russell Hitchcock's 1955 Museum of Modern Art publication on Latin America.
The authors have also chosen to organize their information chronologically so that the reader can see how the architecture developed and what cultural/historic events may have influenced individual works or impacted the output of specific architects. This approach provides the framework for the short chapters; the topics serve both as summaries as well as chapter headings. While concise, each of the chapters provides a great deal of information, augmented by photographs or plans of highlighted works. With just a few lines, the authors provide sufficient information about an architect, the style, the context, and overall importance to the development of a Latin American identity.
The writing is elegant, yet, while easy to read, the text is dense. The authors cover known and unknown architects, a myriad of building types, and set this information in the broader context of both Latin America and the world. Those familiar some of the story will learn how much more there is to modern architecture in Latin America and to countries less often mentioned like Uruguay and Venezuela. Those less familiar with the region will be amazed by the depth and vitality of the architecture depicted.
A well designed layout, suggestions for further reading after each entry, detailed end notes, and a thorough bibliography add to the overall quality of this publication and make it essential for the academic library as well as the student of modern architecture in Latin America.