Camino Real Polanco, Mexico City
Uncompromising, bold colours, in-your-face geometry
Add to that the brilliant use of natural light and not the muted and unchallenging and inoffensive tonal design story of a traditional business hotel was the formula modernist architect Ricardo Legorreta chose for Camino Real Polanco, the business hotel he designed in Mexico City in the year of the Mexico Olympics.
Adopting the principle of going big with a great idea, Legorreta designed two more hotels along the same lines for Banamex, one in Cancun and another in Ixtapa, today known as Las Brisas. What Camino Real Polanco does so brilliantly is pay homage to Legoretta’s Mexican heritage and the hand of his friend and mentor Luis Baragan is also clear. The pair met when Legorreta was Baragan’s student at UMAN and they forged a lifelong friendship.
Integrated into the design is a series of works by important artists including Mathias Goeritz’s sculptural wall and Abstracto en Dorado mural, the continuingly churning Fountain of Eternal Movement by Japanese-American landscape architect Isamu Noguchi, the subject of a major retrospective at the Barbican in Autumn 2021.
I wanted a very discreet and mysterious entrance sequence for the hotel, something to be discovered little by little as you penetrate the building. Part of the first discovery would be water, so I thought of a fountain – like many patios in Mexico, there would be a fountain. Then the concept grew in my mind of an aggressive fountain, one that provoked a reaction – vigorous, thrashing water there within the shelter of the hotel.
Not forgetting a Rufino Tamayo mural and Six Adivinanzas de un Astronauta Hindu by the surrealist Piedro Friedeberg. Whilst the original Calder sculpture Untitled with Olympic themes has gone, sold at auction for a huge sum along with the Annie Albers wall hanging, there remain some amazing pieces in a stunningly beautiful space, not to be missed.
Today the original Legorreta Aquitecos firm founded by Ricardo in 1965 continues to thrive. And, if you’re into Sam Peckinpaw movies, the once seen never forgotten, Bring me the head of Alfredo Garcia a film hairdressers need to watch on Halloween was partly filmed in the hotel, as was Mozart in the Jungle.
All images the Copyright of Christopher Iwata © Find Christopher on Instagram @seaeye1
Legorreta quote via Mexico — Fond Memories of Place: Luis Barragan and Ricardo Legorreta
Camino Real Polanco, Ciudad de México, CDMX Mexico