Martinez, Juan (1901–1971) By Forster, Alejandra Celedon
Juan Martinez Gutierrez arrived to Chile with his family from Spain in 1909. He studied Architecture (1918) at the University of Chile, and trained in parallel in the Faculty of Arts. His professional life was always tied to this institution, first as Professor, then as Director of the School, and eventually as Dean of the Faculty of Architecture. There, he ran and participated in two reforms to the teaching of the discipline, in 1933 and 1946 respectively. In a three-year visit to Europe (1928–31) he absorbed the work of renowned architects of the time, such as van der Rohe, Behrens, Le Corbusier and Gropius, which influenced his own architectural production and, by means of it, the Chilean architectural scene.
The core of his design work developed between the thirties and the fifties, consisting in a large number of public buildings, which stand for the construction of the identity of the emergent modern republic. Many of his buildings are related to education and culture, especially by way of liberal institutions such as the University of Chile. Although slightly neoclassical in appearance, his architecture represents a transition between traditional values and the embracement of modern ones: the blunt aesthetic in the use of concrete, the functional values and the image of monumentality has proved to be enduring.