Chicago Tribune – "Mexican Architect Ricardo Legorreta, known for bold splashes of color and humanism, dies at 80"

« January 03, 2012
Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta, known for bold splashes of color and humanism, dies at 80

Ricardo Legorreta, the award-winning Mexican architect who designed the Max Palevsky Residential Commons at the University of Chicago, has died at age 80, the San Antonio Express-News reports.

Inspired by the great Mexican architect Luis Barragan, Legorreta was known for bright colors, massive masonry walls, courtyards and facade cutouts that interacted with the bright sunlight of Mexico.

In 2000, he won the American Institute of Architects’ Gold Medal, the highest honor that the organization bestows upon an individual. He also served on the jury of the Pritzker Architecture Prize from 1985 to 1993 and designed a vacation house for the Pritzker family in California.

In the late 1980s, Legorreta unsuccessfully teamed with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill of Chicago in the « design-build » competition for Chicago’s Harold Washington Library Center, which had teams of architects and developers competing for the right to build the library in honor of Chicago’s first black mayor.

Chicago architect Thomas Beeby and his firm, Hammond, Beeby & Babka won the competition with a design that produced a massive, postmodern building, replete with references to the architecture of the past, at 400 S. State St.

I was not a big fan of Legorreta’s U. of C. dorm, arguing that while his colorful style was an appropriate regionalist reponse to the landscape of Mexico, it was out of place amid the somber gray of Hyde Park (see story on jump). Nevertheless, the man himself was warm, genial, intelliegent, intellectually honest, and, above all, a great humanist. In a field whose leading practitioners are often given to arrogance and self-indulgence, he’ll be missed. »

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(Photo: Front page: San Antonio Central Library. San Antonio TX.)

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