John F. Lopez F'12
Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships 2012
Department: Architectural History
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The Hydrographic City: Mapping Mexico City's Urban Form in Relation to its Aquatic Condition, 1521-1700
This dissertation explores how Aztec and Spanish hydraulic practices affected Mexico City’s form. The measures taken by each group to avoid flooding were transformative. In 1521, it was an island-city; by 1700, a reclaimed mainland. Like the Aztec, the Spanish sought to control the lakes surrounding the city to prevent inundations; yet while the Aztec relied on containment, the Spanish undertook drainage. Despite the scholarship on pre-Columbian and colonial hydraulics and Mexico City’s form, no research in Spanish or English relates the city’s form to its lacustrine environment. What flood control methods did the Aztec and Spanish use? How did these methods shape two different cities? How did the two groups differ epistemologically in conceiving of Mexico City’s aquatic condition?