Ciudad Universitaria (University City), Mexico
, is UNAM's main campus, located in Coyoacán borough in the southern part of Mexico City. Designed by architects Mario Pani and Enrique del Moral, it encloses the Olympic Stadium, about 40 faculties and institutes, the Cultural Center, an ecological reserve, the Central Library, and a few museums. It was built during the 1950s on an ancient solidified lava bed in Coyoacán called "El Pedregal" to replace the scattered buildings in downtown Mexico City where classes were given. It was completed in 1954 at a cost of approximately $25 million dollars.
At the time of its completion it was the largest single construction project in Mexico since the Aztecs. It was declared a World
Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2007. Although the University has other buildings in Mexico City (mostly for undergraduate studies and cultural purposes), in other Mexican states and in other countries (such as Canada
and the United States
), Ciudad Universitaria, known simply as "C.U.", is the prime symbol of the University.
Ciudad Universitaria is an open place popular on Sundays with families that wish to explore its patios, gardens and footpaths that cover most of its 1,000 hectares. It was built on a lava layer six to eight meters thick which was deposited by the Xitle volcano around 100 AD. Due to its topography and vegetation, there are very few straight roads or paths. Roads tend to be concentric circuits, with buildings located within them. Some can only be reached by a short, 5-10 minute walk. Volcanic rock was removed to make room for the buildings, and it was used to make pathways and outer walls. Buildings themselves are made with common materials, concrete and brick being most common, and usually have big windows and gardens, both inside and outside. Most buildings have only two to three floors.
Inside the ecological reserve stands the Sculptural Space. It is a big round natural solidified lava bed surrounded by many white triangular prisms that seem to radiate from its center, a bit like a sunflower. There are many big and colorful metallic sculptures made by contemporary artists surrounding this area, hence its name.
World Heritage Site
Designation as a World Heritage Site began as a visit in 2005 to the campus by Francesco Bandarin who was the Director of the World Heritage Center at the time he recommended it. It was eventually recognized an ingenious example of urban architectural design. It is also noted for it integration of modern architecture, Mexican traditions and artwork, including those by David Alfaro Siqueiros, José Chávez Morado and Francisco Eppens.
Despite its size and the lack of entry controls, University City is really a very safe place. There is an internal surveillance group, "Auxilio UNAM" (UNAM Help). They patrol the campus all day, especially on vacation days and weekends. They have no firearms, but have hummers, motorcycles and golf carts. For historical and legal reasons to do with university autonomy, law enforcement officers do not enter University City unless specifically requested by the University authorities. Crimes do happen, but are sporadic and usually occur late at night, when most people (both students and employees) have already left. There is also an emergency medical station and a fire station inside campus.
- UNIVERSUM, the Science Museum. It houses interactive exhibits about science, geared to the general public.
- University Museum for the Sciences and Arts (MUCA, Museo Universitario de Ciencias y Artes), holds contemporary art exhibits from Mexican artists and works of art property of the University.
- University Museum of Contemporary Art (MUAC, Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo).
C.U. is an important part of Mexico CIty's cultural life. The campus contains many spaces dedicates to cultural activities from Music, Theatre, Cinema, Visual Arts etc. Most faculties have exhibition spaces and auditoriums used for such purposes. The University Cultural Centre (Centro Cultural Universitario) is a section of the campus containing the main auditoriums, theatres and cinemas. It also includes one of the most recent Contemporary Art Museums in Mexico, the Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporaneo.
The Centre also includes:
- Sala Nezahualcoyotl. Used for orchestral and dance performances.
- Teatro Juan Ruiz de Alarcón. Major theatre. Both classical and contemporary works.
- Foro Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. Camera theatre. Mainly contemporary plays.
- Centro Universitario de Teatro (CUT). A smaller theatre (about 100 seats) attached to the theatre school.
- Sala José Revueltas and Sala Julio Bracho. Both cinema theatres screen an ecletic selection of Mexican and international films.
- Sala Miguel Covarrubias. A small theatre for dancing.