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A Look Back at Ricardo Legorreta

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Local Legorreta+Legorreta projects to love, from left to right: Chiron Life & Science Laboratories, UCSF Mission Bay Center, Schwab Residential Center, Cabernet House, Petaluma House, Schwab Residential Center. Click on the image to enlarge.

Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta, who died last week, was principal torch bearer for a specific form of Mexican Modernism inspired by Luis Barragan, a synthesis of intensely saturated color, deep shadow and blocky grids that probably look best against a bright blue sky. He created plazas and pubic spaces with fountains, set with grandly mysterious but recognizable forms that seemed to come a Surrealist's playbook- often with a tower, like the UCSF community center and the planned campus in Mission Bay. Working for decades with his son as Legorreta+Legorreta, the firm's work will continue, but previous results in the Bay Area have been mixed.

Legorreta disowned his two projects in San Jose, the Tech Museum of Innovation and the Children's Discovery Museum, citing value engineering and changes made by the clients, another reminder that architects don't so much "build" buildings as get lucky with clients. The Novartis/Chiron complex in Emeryville is a brooding but lovely building, and while not everyone loves the UCSF center, it stands out in that welter of post-International Style that defines Mission Bay. At least, until the Salesforce HQ is finished. Check out the gallery above, and have a look at's Flickr page for the project.


, San Francisco, CA