Constructed in 1994 to complement several of Mexico City’s public art schools, the Centro Nacional de las Artes, or CENART is located in the city’s mid-south region. Its design is patterned after a local version of modern minimalist architecture.
This technique, based on the early 20th-century art movement known as the Tapatía Architecture School, is characterized by bulky geometric features, airy interiors, and bright colors. This style is probably best exemplified by the work of Pritzker Prize-winning architect Luis Barragán, who taught at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. Among his students was Ricardo Legorreta Vilchis, whose firm Legorreta Arquitectos designed a majority of CENART.
Often considered Barragán’s successor, Legorreta used elements of his teacher’s style, but modernized them and adapted them to a larger scale. Legorreta is considered responsible for the orange-and-purple research tower, as well as the Library of the Arts and a majority of the common areas. The glass and metal semi-cylinder of the National Drama School fell under the purview of Enrique Norten. Luis Vicente Flores was responsible for the conical National Contemporary and Classical Dance School. Teodoro González de León’s brutalist influences are on full display in the Superior School of Music’s architecture.
In between all these artistic institutions, CENART’s gardens offer a respite of greenery for visitors and students. They also offer a chromatic complement to the bright pink, purple, and earth tones of the folkloric modernism of the buildings.