Juan Luis Burke


Juan Luis Burke is a PhD candidate in Architecture, McGill University, and his fields of study are Early modern architecture and urbanism, particularly Colonial Mexico. He has studied architecture at the State University of Puebla, Mexico, and dedicated himself to the practice of architectural conservation, working on important landmarks such as the Palafoxiana Library in Puebla. As an architect, he has collaborated in architectural offices in the USA, Sweden, and Mexico. He has a master’s degree on museum studies from the University of Gotehnburg, in Sweden, and is now working to obtain his PhD on History and Theory of Architecture from McGill University, under the supervision of Dr. Alberto Pérez-Gómez.

His research revolves around the city of Puebla, in New Spain, present-day Mexico. The project is divided into two parts. The first part explores the “symbolic dimension” of the city of Puebla, Mexico, represented in such urban traits as its gridded layout, its symbolic association to the Heavenly Jerusalem, and its Via Dolorosa, or Way of the Cross. The second part explores the transformation of Puebla from its late-medieval, Renaissance ideal urban experiment, into a full-blown Baroque city a century later. The focus revolves around the bishopric of Juan de Palafox y Mendoza, during the mid-seventeenth century, and on his endeavors to transform Puebla into a Reformist city, one loyal to Spain, while at the same time accommodating its creole and mestizo emerging identity. Palafox advanced many architectural works, including the building of the cathedral of Puebla, which he consecrated in 1649. Juan Luis’ wager is that Palafox used architecture and art as a social and moral tool, and tried to use it to articulate Puebla into a city in tune with the political, religious, and social reality of New Spain in the seventeenth century.

This research project relates to ‘Early Modern Cities as Theatres of Conversion’, in that it attempts to better understand the operational dynamics of European—particularly Spanish—religious and social world-views, and their projection and development as architectural and urban dynamics in New Spain.