Galerias Pacífico, more than just a shopping mall

4:28 PM Sandra Gutrejde 0 Comments

Galerias Pacifico is one of the most luxurious constructions in Buenos Aires. It occupies the square block limited by Florida, Viamonte, and San Martin Streets, and Cordoba Avenue.

In 1889, Francisco Seeber and Emilio Bunge decided to create "Au Bon Marché Argentino Grand Shops", similar to the Bon Marche stores in Paris. Architects Emilio Agrelo and Roland Le Vacher designed the building, inspired by the Vittorio Emmanuelle II galleries in Milan, as a covered passage with commercial shops. The building consisted of four identical sections, divided by two crossed central passages. But financial problems and the economic crisis of 1890 and 1908 made it necessary to sell parts of the building, and the stores were never opened.

On December 1896, the galleries turned into the first head office of the National Museum of Fine Arts; in 1908, the Ferrocarril Buenos Aires al Pacífico (railway administration) acquired part of the building for its offices, and it started to be known as "Edificio Pacífico" (Pacífico Building).

In the 1940's, Architects Jorge Aslan and Héctor Ezcurra redesigned the building. The lower level was turned into a commercial sector, separated from the office sector, and the passages were roofed.

The central dome, with 450 square meters, was embellished with painted murals by some of the most outstanding artists of that moment: Lino Eneas Spilimbergo, Antonio Berni, Juan Carlos Castagnino, Manuel Colmeiro, and Demetrio Urruchúa. The twelve painted panels constitute one of the most important mural groups in Buenos Aires, especially the fresco by Antonio Berni.
After years of neglect, the building was declared as a National Historical Monument in 1989, and a year later a concession was granted to a private group to build a shopping center. The galleries were redesigned and reopened in 1990. Four murals by artists Rómulo Macció, Josefina Robirosa, Guillermo Roux, and Carlos Alonso were added.

The Centro Cultural Borges, which hosts artistic exhibitions, cultural programs and shows is also located in the premises.

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