Alvaro Ortega (1920-91) was a Columbian, born in Bogota. He studied architecture at McGill University in the 1940s, then later at Harvard, although he had had earlier training in Brussels and Paris. He became fully absorbed in the cult of Modernism put forth by the pre-eminent architectural educators, Marcel Breuer and W alter Gropius, and he developed an architecture that attempted to merge the art of design with the art of engineering. Ortega explored the structural and aesthetic possibilities of reinforced concrete which is evident in his design for a baseball stadium in Cartagena (late 1940s). He practiced briefly in his native Bogota, then turned to teaching, at home and at McGill University. In the late 1950s, Ortega undertook the first of many series of Missions for the United Nations seeking to develop efficient and economical housing solutions for underprivileged peoples in Asia, Africa and South America. His commitment to the use of technology for the benefit of low-cost housing constituted the main thrust of his whole life's work. The CAC conserves drawings for two early projects in low-cost housing for the United Nations as well as Ortega's extensive library. A bibliography of this library is presently being prepared for publication by the CAC.

For further information see Alvaro Ortega : Prearquitectura del bienestar. Colección Somosur. Bogota, Columbia: Escala, 1989.


All the material in this archive was donated by Alvaro Ortega; Ortega's library was received by the CAC in 1991.


Architectural Drawings, 1961, 46 drawings. The drawings formed part of a project prepared for the United Nations for low-cost asbestos roof-tiling. This material has not been described.

Photographs, 1961, 2 photographs. These relate to the above-mentioned project. These materials have not been described.

Architectural Operations, 1967, 2 cm. The file contains a four-page application for low-cost roofing. It has not been described.

Personal Library, n.d., 7.13 m. These books and periodicals relate mainly to Ortega's professional interests such as low cost housing, building materials, water and sanitation, the environment and energy. In process.

Slides, n.d., 287 slides. These relate to Ortega's on-going concerns on lost-cost housing, building materials, construction methods and alternative sources of energy. Slides have not yet been described.