January 05, 2009

The Maya Revival Style

Mayan RevivalMaya(n) Revival architecture refers to modern architecture and decorative arts that draw inspiration from the architecture and iconography of pre-Columbian Mesoamerican cultures. Though the term refers specifically to the Maya civilization of southern Mexico and Central America, in practice this revivalist style frequently blends Maya architectural and artistic motifs with those of other Mesoamerican cultures, particularly the central Mexican architectural styling from the Aztec period as exhibited by the Mexica and other Nahua groups. Although there were mutual influences between these original and otherwise distinct and richly varied pre-Columbian artistic traditions, the syncretism of these modern reproductions is often an ahistorical one.

Two prominent architects that worked in this style are Frank Lloyd Wright and Robert Stacy-Judd. Wright's Hollyhock House copied the shape of temples from Palenque, the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo was in the shape of a Mesoamerican pyramid, the massive pyramid of Beth Sholom Synagogue with its geometric roof detailing is perhaps the most direct Wright evocation of Maya form, while the Ennis House is built from concrete textile blocks that evoke the geometric patterning on the façades of Uxmal buildings. The façade and furniture for Stacy-Judd's Aztec Hotel incorporated abstract patterns that were loosely inspired by Maya hieroglyphs.
Below:  Frank Lloyd Wright's Hollyhock House.

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