Designing America: Spain’s Imprint in the U.S.

  • Heritage
  • Santa Barbara
  • Thu, Oct 20, 2016 —
    Mon, Apr 10, 2017
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 Santa Barbara Historical Museum 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.


Venue map

Santa Barbara Historical Museum, 136 E De La Guerra St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101


Museum hours: Tuesday through Saturday, from 10 am to 5 pm; Sunday, from noon to 5 pm; closed on Monday.

More information

Designing America: Spain’s Imprint in the U.S


Organized by Fundación Consejo España – Estados Unidos. In collaboration with the Santa Barbara Historical Museum, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Spain and the Biblioteca Nacional de España. Gold Sponsors: HP, Acciona, Ferrovial, Fundación ACS, Iberdrola, Obra Social “La Caixa”, OHL and Técnicas Reunidas. Additional support by SPAIN arts & culture, the Consulate General of Spain in Los Angeles and the California Missions Foundation. See full exhibition credits. Image: Thomas Stackhouse, North America after the American Revolution. Spanish Territory was Recognized Internationally, 1783 © Biblioteca Nacional de España.



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