Tucson Modernism Week Explores Where Midcentury Modernism Meets Mexico

The 5-Day Celebration of Arizona’s Desert Modernism returns with a sleeker look and a curated selection of events, including events focused on Mexico.

For those who don’t already know it, Tucson is a midcentury boomtown. The southern Arizona town’s population exploded during the 1950’s and 60’s, filling it with thousands of mid-century modern ranch homes, now known by many as “Atomic Ranches.”  This month, the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation is bringing back an all in-person format with an all new slate of programs and tours from November 9th to November 13th.

Among the highlights, the program takes a much closer look at the relationship between northern Sonora and Southern Arizona in the post-WWII era, including a now-sold out A trip to explore the architecture and design of Nogales, Arizona, and Nogales, Sonora, on Saturday, Nov. 12. 

“Nogales became such an important port for the transfer of people and goods, midcentury. The architecture of both sides began to express the growing importance of these cities in the 20th century,” said Demion Clinco, CEO of the Tucson Preservation Foundation.  “Today, we really think of the border as being such a definitive wall. You have to imagine that it was far more permeable in the middle of the 20th century. The design and influence of these different ideas happening in the U.S. and Mexico were flowing back and forth in a more robust way.”

William L. Bird, Jr., Curator Emeritus at the National Museum of American History – Smithsonian Institution, will also take guests on a tour of the design of countless Mexico travel brochures directed to the attention of the motoring public. 

Among the house tours, a tour of Judith Chaffee’s Jacobson House (above) stands out as an example of Tucson’s Modern architectural movement. 

Read more about Tucson Modernism Week here and here.