Nonoalco-Tlatelolco / Mexico City

Nonoalco-Tlatelolco (1964) is the largest apartment complex in Mexico and the second largest in North America. The plan, by architect Mario Pani, included 102 residential towers with plazas and public space in between. It was based on Le Corbusier's concept of towers in the park.
Built as a mixed-income solution to a looming housing crisis resulting from urbanization, the city within a city included schools, recreation, businesses, gardens, hospitals, and art. The development was home to 80,000 people.





Source: Browne Barnes

Tlatelolco started as a city-state on the shore of Lake Texcoco and was overtaken by the ascendant Aztecs. During the conquest of Mexico by Cortés, in 1521, Tlatelolco was the last battleground between the Aztecs and the Spanish. Cortés's conquistadors won the fight, and 40,000 Aztecs were killed. There is now a plaque on the site that reads: “The battle was not a triumph, nor was it a defeat. It was the painful birth of the mestizonation that is the Mexico of today.”
The excavated ruins of the former Tlatelolco temple and the Spanish church is the Plaza de las Tres Culturas (“Square of the Three Cultures”, referring to the Aztecs, Spain and Mexico). University Cultural Center Tlatelolco (CCUT) is the tall white structure on the right. Designed by Pedro Ramirez Vazquez and Rafael Mijares in 1965, It once housed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Source: Photo by Armando Salas Portugal, 1966 via Revista Codigo

High school in Nonoalco-Tlatelolco
Source: Photo by Armando Salas Portugal via CCUT

Source: Mayitzin
In 1968, just 10 days before the opening of the Olympics in Mexico City, 10,000 people attended what was supposed to be a peaceful demonstration at the Plaza de las Tres Culturas. Mexican police and soldiers surrounded the plaza, and opened fire on the crowds in response to shots being fired at them. Government documents released in 2000 suggest that the shots were fired by snipers who were part of the government’s own Olympic BrigadeEstimates from various sources state anywhere from 30 to 300 people were killed. The Mexican government concealed the magnitude of the massacre from the international community and proceeded to hold the “Games of Peace.” The Tlatelolco massacre is still somewhat unknown outside of Mexico.
In 1985 a magnitude 8.1 earthquake struck Mexico City, destroying one of the largest buildings in Tlatelolco. In addition, at least eight towers would eventually have to be demolished due to earthquake damage. Today, only 90 of the 102 residential towers remain and the population has dropped to 55,000. Apparently, Modernism failed gain.
Post-earthquake rebuilding was poorly managed and was fraught with corruption and low quality product. Much of the middle class residents left the community. Due to high crime, there is a virtual curfew because residents are afraid to venture out at night. Maintenance is also an issue.   

The 25 story Torre Insignia or Torre Banobras, as seen from the Torre Latinoamericana.

It was designed by Pani for the government bank, Banobras.

It's ben mostly vacant for almost a decade. 


The Taxi driver was a champ for taking me to see the building from all angles.

A carillon with 47 bells, made by Petit & Fritsenin, is in the building's highest point. It was a gift from the Belgian government to Mexico City. 
A march was happening the day I was at Tlatelolco.