Mario Pani (March 29, 1911-February 23, 1993) was a Mexican architect and urban planner—meaning he did design buildings, but he also planned the layouts of multiple buildings with great consideration for the effects that his planning would
have on the people who use the space. He heavily influenced the appearance of Mexico City, especially the University City of the UNAM, or National Autonomous University of Mexico. This particular space covers 1500 acres, and is the collaboration of several different architects.
Pani is best known for integrating the Mexican muralist tradition with very functionalist and practical architecture. Most of his buildings are highly geometric but incorporate very large and highly ornate works of art. The Rectoria (Rectorate Tower), is a prime example. Pani, in collaboration with another architect, designed the short square building, which features a three-dimensional mural by the artist David Alfaro Siquieros. The mural is made of glazed tile, epoxies, glues, glass bricks, concrete and onyx. Even in the mural itself, the materials and the form work to unite traditional Mexican mural painting with new technologies and materials. It is a beautiful fit into Pani’s ideas of unifying these two things.
Pani worked during a time when Mexico city was experiencing a huge increase in population as people surged to the city looking for work. He created housing complexes with these people specifically in mind. He wanted to create efficient living spaces and focus on economic growth for the city. The industrialization of the 1950’s greatly influenced his style.
Pani studied in France and Mexico, and later founded the National College of Architects in Mexico in 1946.
Thank you to Jessica Thurston, an Urban Design Major and really smart person, who introduced me to this architect, and allowed me to read a paper she wrote about him. She should probably re-do his wikipedia page.