The ensemble of buildings, sports facilities and open spaces of the Central University City Campus of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), was built from 1949 to 1952 by more than 60 architects, engineers and artists who were involved in the project. As a result, the campus constitutes a unique example of 20th-century modernism integrating urbanism, architecture, engineering, landscape design and fine arts with references to local traditions, especially to Mexico’s pre-Hispanic past. The ensemble embodies social and cultural values of universal significance and is one of the most significant icons of modernity in Latin America.
Alfonso Caso Auditorium. José Chávez Morado Mural “La conquista de laenergía
© Coordinación deProyectos Especiales
Outstanding Universal Value
The Central University City Campus of UNAM bears testimony to the modernization of post-revolutionary Mexico in the framework of universal ideals and values related to access to education, improvement of quality of life, integral intellectual and physical education and integration between urbanism, architecture and fine arts. It is a collective work, where more than sixty architects, engineers and artists worked together to create the spaces and facilities apt to contribute to the progress of humankind through education.
The urbanism and architecture of the Central University City Campus of UNAM constitute an outstanding example of the application of the principles of 20th Century modernism merged with features stemming from pre-Hispanic Mexican tradition. The ensemble became one of the most significant icons of modern urbanism and architecture in Latin America, recognized at universal level.
Criterion (i): The Central University City Campus of UNAM constitutes a unique example in the 20th century where more than sixty professionals worked together, in the framework of a master plan, to create an urban architectural ensemble that bears testimony to social and cultural values of universal significance.
Criterion (ii): The most important trends of architectural thinking from the 20th century converge in the Central University City Campus of UNAM: modern architecture, historicist regionalism, and plastic integration; the last two of Mexican origin.
Criterion (iv): The Central University City Campus of UNAM is one of the few models around the world where the principles proposed by Modern Architecture and Urbanism were totally applied; the ultimate purpose of which was to offer man a notable improvement in the quality of life.
Since all the fundamental physical components of the original ensemble remain and no major changes have been introduced, the property satisfies the required conditions of integrity and authenticity. The campus conserves unaltered its essential physical components: urban design, buildings, open spaces, circulation system and parking areas, landscape design and works of art. . Functions have not changed over time. The existing physical components therefore express the historic, cultural and social values of the ensemble, and its authenticity of design, materials, substance, workmanship and functions.
At the national level, the Central University City Campus of UNAM was listed as a National Artistic Monument in July 2005, in the framework of the Federal Law on Archaeological, Artistic and Historic Monuments and Zones. At the local level, the UNAM Campus and the Olympic stadium are defined as heritage conservation zones in the framework of the District Programme for Urban Development (1997) of Coyoacán Delegation, one of the administrative units of Mexico City. Since the University is an autonomous organization, it has its own offices in charge of maintenance and conservation of the campus. Among them, the Governing Plan for University City (1993) rules the future growth of the University facilities, uses of land and maintenance of the campus. The Integral Plan for the University City (2005) constitutes the current management plan for the campus. The physical components are in a good state of conservation, and the process of ageing is controlled by means of plans of maintenance and preservation of both free and constructed spaces. The Office for Special Projects of UNAM developed and implements the Integral Plan for the University City (September 2005). With the aim of implementing and monitoring the Plan, the University will create the University City Management Programme (PROMACU).
King Philip II of Spain established the Royal and Pontifical University of Mexico in 1551, which makes it, together with San Marcos University in Lima, Peru, the first universities in the New World. In 1865, Emperor Maximilian closed the University, which was re-opened in 1910 as the Mexico National University. After the Mexican Revolution, the University reached autonomy in 1929, in order to assure cultural development and scientific education. It was then renamed with the current denomination of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM).
Since its creation, the University has occupied several locations in the historic centre of Mexico City. The creation of a University City was in mind since the 1920s. In 1943, it was decided that the University would be located in the area known as Pedregal de San Ángel, next to the village of Coyoacán, located south of Mexico City. The property was then apart from the urban settlement; the name Pedregal (stony ground) refers to the type of soil and resulting landscape, product of the eruption of a volcano.
The master plan for the campus was the result of an architectural competition, in which architects Mario Pani and Enrique del Moral were awarded. Their idea was based on the urban and architectural principles of the Modern Movement, with the incorporation of components stemming from national tradition, like local materials or references to pre-Hispanic urbanism and architecture. The then developing local architectural trend of "Plastic Integration" took the incorporation of works of fine arts, especially murals, to the buildings and open spaces. For the project of the buildings, sports facilities and open spaces, the most prominent Mexican architects were invited, together with advanced students. As a result, the project for the campus involved the work, in the framework of the master plan, of some sixty architects and artists.
The works of construction started in 1949 and the official opening of the new campus took place in 1952, with courses starting in 1954. The physical conditions of the campus have not changed essentially since then; new buildings were constructed in neighbouring areas without disturbing the harmony of the original composition. At the same time, the University area includes part of the natural landscape of the Pedregal, which is protected as an ecological reserve. Source: Advisory Body Evaluation