Designing Pan-America: U.S. Architectural Visions for the Western Hemisphere

Synopsis

Late in the nineteenth century, U. S. commercial and political interests began eyeing the countries of Latin America as plantations, farms, and mines to be accessed by new shipping lines and railroads. As their desire to dominate commerce and trade in the Western Hemisphere grew, these U. S. interests promoted the concept of "Pan-Americanism" to link the United States and Latin America and called on U. S. architects to help set the stage for Pan-Americanism's development. Through international expositions, monuments, and institution building, U. S. architects translated the concept of a united Pan-American sensibility into architectural or built form. In the process, they also constructed an artificial ideological identity--a fictional Pan-America peopled with imaginary Pan-American citizens, the hemispheric loyalists who would support these projects and who were the presumed benefactors of this presumed architecture of unification.

Designing Pan-Americapresents the first examination of the architectural expressions of Pan-Americanism. Concentrating on U. S. architects and their clients, Robert Alexander Gonz lez demonstrates how they proposed designs reflecting U. S. presumptions and projections about the relationship between the United States and Latin America. This forgotten chapter of American architecture unfolds over the course of a number of international expositions, ranging from the North, Central, and South American Exposition of 1885-1886 in New Orleans to Miami's unrealized Interama fair and San Antonio's Hemis Fair '68 and encompassing the Pan American Union headquarters building in Washington, D. C. and the creation of the Columbus Memorial Lighthouse in the Dominican Republic.