Move Over, Mexico City: Acapulco Is the Country's Surprise Design Darling
Meet the Mexican city where high design meets the Pacific.
ACAPULCO, Mexico - Mexico City wrapped its reign as 2018's World Design Capital. But just a three-and-a-half-hour drive (or 45-minute flight) west, on the Pacific coast, is a city bursting with beautiful sights for design and architecture junkies. Acapulco is known as a midcentury destination for the rich and the famous (Jackie Kennedy and Elizabeth Taylor both honeymooned there), and you can still spot signs of its past, from perfectly preserved retro-chic hotels to huge murals and mosaics by Diego Rivera himself. But what impressed me most are the artful new constructions, which look as much like huge sculptures as functional buildings, tucked along the mountains and crashing into the ocean below. Here are five spots for lovers of good design.
Becco Al Mare
From the street, all you see of this Italian restaurant is a mysterious wood and glass box and a suspended chandelier — it looks a lot like a giant ice cube. Step inside and head down the spiral staircase, and you'll realize the entryway is just the tip of the iceberg. The main venue, designed by the founder of Sama Arquitectos, has floor-to-ceiling windows for great views of Acapulco Bay.
Set high on a hilltop, with sweeping vistas of Acapulco Bay, this chic, geometric hotel is known for its all-white exterior and interconnected water features, which sweep past private suites and smaller pools and lead to a jaw-dropping infinity pool, reflecting silhouetted trees and the cove below. The property, which has won several architecture awards, was designed by Miguel Ángel Aragonés, a self-taught Mexican architect responsible for more than a dozen buildings in Mexico City, aiming to change the aesthetic of low-income housing along with residences and hospitality projects.
Read the review on Fathom: Find Your Peace on the Pacific at Encanto Acapulco
Acapulco International Airport
Acapulco’s new terminal, which opened to the public in June 2019, was designed by Mexican architect Alberto Kalach, a Mexico City native who founded México: Ciudad Futura (“Mexico, future city”) and unveiled the design of a $5,000 house. Acapulco’s new airport boasts sleek windows, high towering ceilings, and steel accents.
Capilla del Atardecer
This avant-garde, majestic church merits a double take: At first glance, it imitates a boulder, blending right into its natural surroundings. That’s intentional — Mexican firm BNKR Arquitectura built it entirely out of concrete (with minimal environmental impact), and its only glass feature is the altar cross. A narrow base opens into a dark staircase to a ceremonial chapel that rises fifteen feet above the treetops, with alternating concrete columns in lieu of walls so visitors can take in the view. The design commemorates those we’ve lost, and it’s the counterpart to the light-filled La Estancia chapel over in Morelos, Mexico — an airy structure celebrating marriage.
For an unforgettable visit, stay in this luxury villa, a one-time home built in the ‘60s by Oscar and Eduardo Hagerman and later renovated by Marcos Hagerman, of HGR Arquitectos. Floor-to-ceiling windows mean jaw-dropping views of Acapulco Bay and Roqueta Island. Natural vegetation cleverly planted around the property keeps the house private and provides natural climate control.
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