José Manuel Pérez Latorre, the Zaragoza architect who knew how to make a city, dies

José Manuel Pérez Latorre, the Zaragoza architect who knew how to make a city, dies

2023-09-21 19:21:53

The prestigious Aragonese architect José Manuel Pérez Latorre He died this Thursday at the age of 76. The community says goodbye to one of its references and author of some of the most recognized and recognizable works. His signature appears in such prestigious projects as the restoration of the Teatro Principal de Zaragozathe auditoriumfor which he won the National Architecture Prize, or the Spanish pavilion at the 1992 Seville Expo, the Reino de Aragón hotel, the Pablo Serrano Museum or the old CAI building in Romareda, among many others.

As a great connoisseur and researcher of the city model that Zaragoza has become, The architect José Manuel Pérez Latorre leaves a notable mark in the architectural annals of the Aragonese capital of the last quarter of the 20th century, especially with regard to the public sphere. His works, mainly the result of competitions and commissions from different political and economic powers for decades, created admiration while generating controversy.

The truth is that those who visit the city today can access places as outstanding as the Auditorium (a magic box that Zubin Metha defined as “the paradise” of music); he Caesaraugusta Forum Museum (under a surprising onyx prism brought from Iran) located in the Plaza de La Seo, whose current layout, which gives dignity to the cathedral, is also the work of Pérez Latorre, or the current Aragonese Institute of Contemporary Art and Culture (IAACC)popularly known as Pablo Serrano Museumand its rabidly contemporary turquoise silhouette as a sculptural will.

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Buildings, all of which are technically complex and very different, but they fit into that his own eclectic movement which he himself called “architecture of the middle valley of the Ebro or Ribera”, with contrasts of natural materials (clay, concrete, etc.) with other more exquisite ones (marble, onyx and alabaster), and which generated, according to his own definition , “buildings that sit on the earth, eminently cubic, precise in their limits, very forceful and resolved with very few elements. Differentiated by the material, the climate and the character of the people. And with always magical interiors.”

He was currently working on another architectural complex of great importance for the urban history of the city.such as the expansion of the headquarters of the Chamber of Commerce. Again, a trip to the city’s past, to the old way Zaragoza Trade Fair. And again, that contemporary architectural language to respond to the services demanded in the 21st century, through a surprising glass cladding along with a large zinc roof designed as the eaves of traditional Aragonese architecture.

José Manuel Pérez Latorre loved his city and wanted to beautify it, if possible, with the best. From the restoration of the Principal Theater to the church of Nuestra Señora del Portillo. From the construction of the CAI headquarters of Isabel la Católica to the Reino de Aragón hotelthe expansion of the headquarters of the Ebro Hydrographic Confederation (CHE) or the renovation and adaptation for the Zaragoza Ceramics Museum of the Casa de Albarracín in Labordeta Park to the current rehabilitation of the old La Zaragozana factory or the coffee factory singer El Plata.

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Yours is the modernization of Verkos Laboratorieson the Logroño road, with the curious translucent tower with an endless number of mouths and teeth, in clear reference to the manufacture of pastes and elixirs for dental and oral hygiene.

Also the headquarters of CREA. A building originally built as the Aragon Pavilion (removable) at the 1992 Seville Expo, and which, once completed, returned to Zaragoza to finally be used on the left bank of the Ebro River.

Like the rest of the architects of this time, he did not renounce residential construction. From officially protected blocks to buildings in the city center or single-family homes.

Nor was he closed to any project. Of the Canfranc station to public schools or even a family pantheon.

His least known facet was perhaps that of consolidation of projects such as the general support of the Tarazona Cathedral, the Tauste Tower, the Montcada de Fraga Palace, the Church of Santa Cruz de la Serós, etc. That of work in public spaces, such as the Parque del Barrio Oliver, Puente de Piedra, Plaza José Sinués, Parque del Palacio de Eguarás… And his contribution to different planning, such as the Linear Plan of the Huerva River; he Special plan for the management of the Imperial canal; San José Avenue in Torrero beaches; Special Plan for the North Station, Special Plan for the Zaragoza Fair and specific modifications to the General Plan.

There is no doubt that José Manuel Pérez Latorre has created a city despite difficult times who, like the rest of the architects in recent decades, has had to live and fit in.

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Wise man on topics related to history, literature, painting, music and art in general. He was professor of the Department of Theory and Criticism of the Higher School of Architecture of Barcelona. And in his CV you can read the numerous courses he wrote, as well as the abundant publications and exhibitions in which he participated, and, of course, the awards he obtained.

Cultured and good conversationalist. It was common to find him listening to classical music between notebooks and pencils, since He was not a fan of computers and cutting-edge technologies.. He liked current events and being critical, but not in public. He recognized where he came from and who he was. What he supposed to have been up and also down. His last pictorial exhibition closed the cultural year of the Aljafería Palace in 2020. It was titled ‘The sea of ​​our dead’ and showed, in twenty paintings and drawings, his feelings for the deaths of hundreds of people in the Mediterranean Sea. His commitment.

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