DESIGN > PLANNING > ARCHITECTURE > PRE-COLONIZATION

c. 1500 BC – 1540
the Americas — Influences: ancient traditions and the environment

Before explorers landed on the shores of the Americas, natives had developed communities and empires for centuries. Building methods were based on the climate, resources and ways of living.

Numerous inhabitants included many native tribes across the US, the Aztec Empire of the central basin surrounding Lake Texcoco, the Mayans of the Yucatan Peninsula, and the Incan Empire of South America. While ultimate fear and disease exposure resulted in many of these cultures being extinguished or diminished or absorbed by the early Europeans, relics and methods continue to be preserved.

Pre-Columbian, Mexico

Indigenous people of Central and South America designed Pre-Columbian cities and civilizations, permanent settlements reflecting their beliefs, lifestyles, and locales.


Native Dwellings, United States

The ubiquitous teepee is just one among several building methods used by Native Americans, which assimilated with nature using wood, reeds, thatch and animal hides.


Pueblo + Adobe, United States

Pueblo communities using adobe mud construction has been used by natives in the American Southwest and Northern Mexico for hundreds of years.

Although typically associated with New Mexico and the US Southwest, the Pueblo style has origins that extend into present-day Mexico. Its pre-Hispanic heritage and construction style have influenced Mexican architecture.

Located in the present-day United States, three UNESCO World Heritage Sites credit the ancestral Pueblo natives for their construction: Mesa Verde National Park and Chaco Culture National Historical Park, both masonry-constructed, and the adobe settlement of Taos Pueblo. In Mexico, a related Site is listed: the ancient Mogollon adobe construction found at Paquimé, Casas Grandes in Chihuahua.