Mexico City: Past & Present

A three-day fundraising tour benefiting the Society of Architectural Historians
August 5–7, 2023
Tour Leader: Kathryn O'Rourke
Pricing: $3500 per person (includes a $2200 tax-deductible donation to SAH)
Space is limited
To register by phone, please call 312-573-1365


The Society of Architectural Historians invites you to a three-day architectural tour in Mexico City led by Kathryn O'Rourke, professor of art and art history at Trinity University and author of the award-winning Modern Architecture in Mexico City: History, Representation, and the Shaping of a Capital. Take a deep dive into the urban history of the city, visit extraordinary works of colonial and nineteenth-century architecture, and tour modernist masterpieces and museums. Gain firsthand knowledge of Mexico City's art and architecture and enjoy the friendly atmosphere of our highly engaged tour group.

SAH’s fundraising tours combine architectural exploration with experts plus the opportunity to support the organization and its activities. Proceeds from the tour will benefit SAH and its educational mission to promote the study, interpretation, and conservation of the built environment worldwide. Reservations are open to anyone with an interest in the art and architecture of Mexico City and in supporting SAH.

Arrival: Friday, August 4

The Camino Real Hotel, located on the eastern edge of the upscale Polanco neighborhood, just north of Chapultepec Park, will be your home in Mexico City.

3:30 pm ­– Optional visit to Estudio Tatiana Bilbao

5:30 pm – Welcome and introductions at the hotel

Day 1: Saturday, August 5 | Walking Tour of Historic Center

Our trip begins with a walking tour of the historic center of Mexico City, where we will discuss the capital’s 700-year history. Stops will include the Zócalo, the Cathedral of Mexico, and one of Mexico’s splendid baroque churches. We will have a private tour of the Palacio de Minería, one of the most impressive works of neoclassicism in the hemisphere, by Manuel Tolsá. After lunch, we’ll have a special visit to the magnificent former Palace of the Counts of San Mateo de Valparaíso with its astounding staircase, designed by Francisco Guerrero y Torres, Mexico’s foremost architect of the late eighteenth century.

Day 2: Sunday, August 6 | Modernism in the South

On Sunday, we’ll explore modern architecture in the southern part of the city, starting with a walking tour of the University City, the main campus of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM)—a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We’ll also have a special tour of the Anahuacalli Museum, designed by artist Diego Rivera and architect Juan O’Gorman. There we’ll be joined by architects from Taller Mauricio Rocha, who recently completed an expansion of the museum. After lunch, we’ll head to San Angel to visit the Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo House Studio Museum, designed by Juan O’Gorman.

Anthropology Museum

Day 3: Monday, August 7 | Highlights and Special Guests

On the final day of the tour, we will be joined by James Oles, an internationally-recognized authority on Mexican art and the curator of the recent Diego Rivera’s America exhibition at SFMOMA. He will guide us through Rivera’s extraordinary 1920s fresco cycle at the Ministry of Education and through the murals and spaces at the Abelardo Rodríguez Market, which has been a bustling downtown market since the 1930s. That day we will also visit the historic Justo Sierra Synagogue, and be joined by the director. After lunch, we will have the world-famous National Museum of Anthropology to ourselves for a very special guided visit. Our tour concludes with an evening cocktail party at a penthouse apartment with spectacular views.

Kathryn E. O’Rourke is a professor at Trinity University in San Antonio, where she teaches courses on modern architecture and Latin American art in the programs in Art History and Urban Studies, and directs the minor in Architectural Studies. She holds a B.A. from Wellesley College and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. O’Rourke is the author of Modern Architecture in Mexico City: History, Representation, and the Shaping of a Capital (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2016), which received SAH’s Alice Davis Hitchcock Book Award, and Home, Heat, Money, God: Texas and Modern Architecture (University of Texas Press, forthcoming, 2024). Her current book project is Archaism and Liberalism in Modern Architecture.

For four years O’Rourke served on the executive committee of the Society of Architectural Historians. She sits on the Visiting Committee on Latin American Art at the San Antonio Museum of Art and on the board of Centro San Antonio, whose Urban Planning and Development committee she chairs.

This fundraising event is priced at $3500 per person, which includes a $2200 tax-deductible gift to the Society of Architectural Historians. Space is limited to 25 participants. Registration is open to anyone with an interest in the art and architecture of Mexico City and in supporting SAH.

A $500 deposit will be required at the time of booking. Balance due by June 30, 2023.


  • Welcome reception reception on Friday evening at 5:30 pm
  • Three days of commentary led by Kathryn O'Rourke
  • Four nights hotel accommodations at Camino Real
  • Transportation from hotel to sites each day
  • Bus transportation back to hotel on Sunday
  • Three lunches
  • Private cocktail party on final evening
  • Admission fees when required
  • Illustrated tour notes


  • Originating flight from participant's home to Mexico City
  • Airport transfers
  • Breakfast and dinner each day
  • Departing flight from Mexico City to participant's home

Cancellation & Refund Policy
Cancellations received on or before June 30, 2023, will incur a $500 non-refundable cancellation fee. No refunds will be given on or after July 1, 2023. All cancellations must be in writing to Christopher Kirbabas at

Please note that this event includes walking tours (Saturday and Sunday) and longer periods of standing (Monday).

Mexico City is at more than 7200 feet. Some people may wish to arrive a day early to adjust. The first day will be busy and full, and it can be quite tiring to hit the ground running. Be sure to drink lots of water to stay hydrated.

The tour will take place during Mexico City's rainy season. It can be cool and wet, so please bring an umbrella, rain jacket, and outerwear for the evenings. The nights can feel quite chilly, especially when it rains.

Everyone should carry a mask as masking is still required in some places in Mexico City.


SAH thanks The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation
for its operating support.
Society of Architectural Historians
1365 N. Astor Street
Chicago, Illinois 60610