Theses Master's

Recovering the Ideals of a Former Paradise: Preservation Approaches for Modern Acapulco

Ávila Flynn, Mariana

The popularity of Acapulco as one of the most glamorous destinations of the mid- twentieth century has remained prominent in the imagination of Mexican and international communities partly because its construction relied on displaying stunning tropical landscapes that merged with the development of modern facilities. As time went by, these elements became part of a worldwide publicity and artistic strategy promoted by the government, and primarily materialized by modern Mexican architects, giving Acapulco its global fame that proliferated between the 1940s and the 1970s. In that context, this thesis argues that Acapulco resulted as a unique Mexican seaboard city that showcased a notable influence of the modern architectural movement instituted worldwide, but also a modern tropical idiom that became relevant in the tropics after World War II. To demonstrate the argument, the analysis of “Los Cocos“ Condominium and “Condesa el Mar” Hotel designed by Mario Pani will act as two case studies that exemplify the institution of the modern tropical approach for Acapulco.

Mario Pani is well-known because of his significant participation in the construction and modernization of Mexico City, mostly during Miguel Aleman’s presidency between 1946 and 1952. This participation was echoed in Acapulco as a collection of projects that demonstrated the establishment of a modern idiom as part of Acapulco’s development. However, his involvement as an influential character in Acapulco’s construction has been overlooked by present scholarship, leading to the demolition or transforming his legacy and the loss of the original character-defining features found in former tropical modernism. In addition to providing a new academic perspective toward Pani’s work in Acapulco, this thesis will place the analysis of his structures within the current framework for preservation in Acapulco to provide alternatives for a contemporary understanding of Acapulco’s modern heritage. Finally, the study will support the claim that it is possible to apply the ideals instituted as a part of modern Acapulco for preservation strategies, such as renovations or adaptive reuse projects.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Historic Preservation
Thesis Advisors
Rakatansky, Mark
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
August 10, 2020


The PDF of this thesis was replaced with a revised version on December 17, 2021.