Designing America: Spain’s Imprint in the U.S.
An interactive look at Spain’s architectural and urban cultural legacy in the United States.
The Houston Public Library presents Designing America: Spain’s Imprint in the U.S., an exhibition organized by Fundación Consejo España-Estados Unidos, in partnership with Biblioteca Nacional de España (BNE, National Library of Spain). Through the dialogue between historic documents and the combined narration of texts, images and audio-visual elements, the exhibit displays the important contributions that Spain has made to the construction of the United States territory, landscape and cities, starting with the first settlements to present day.
Curated by Spanish architects Juan Miguel Hernández León and Francisco Arques Soler and designed as an open cross-sectional tour through architecture, urban planning and the territory, Designing America: Spain’s Imprint in the U.S. enlightens the historical, political and cultural events that have marked the course of 500 years of common history between the United States and Spain.
The Spanish contribution is present in emblematic cities such as New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles or New Orleans, which preserve an undeniable Spanish presence in their twenty-first century structure, culture and heritage.
Designing America: Spain’s Imprint in the U.S. shows us the fragmented stories of influential figures, such as Rafael Guastavino, a Valencian master builder who introduced timbrel vaulting to the U.S. and constructed nearly a thousand buildings with his patented tiling system, and José Luis Sert, an exile of the Spanish Civil War who went on to lead the Harvard Department of Architecture.
Embarking on a themed, yet non-sequential cross-sectional survey of these contributions, the exhibition is presented in four blocks: The image of America; Constructing the territory; Cities: the Spanish urban space; and Constructed works: architecture and engineering. In each of these blocks, a set of more than 20 maps, images and objects is matched with parallel narrations that complement and enrich this collection.
The visit is completed by The Spanish Language: place names in the United States, an interactive installation that helps to localize the states and cities in the U.S., the video The Spanish Frontier in North America, and a multi-touch table with zoomable maps. Most of the images will have QR codes.