Fifteen architectural novelties on the path of totality to visit during the total solar eclipse

Mazatlán to Nova Scotia

Fifteen architectural novelties on the path of totality to visit during the total solar eclipse

The Texas Woofus by Lawrence Tenney Stevens was destroyed in 1941 by Christian Evangelicals, who thought the equestrian sculpture was a pagan idol. Recently, it was rebuilt in Dallas, and is on the path of totality. (Carol M. Highsmith/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain)

On April 8 at approximately 11:07 a.m. in Mazatlán, Mexico, a historic solar eclipse will commence, lasting for 4 minutes and 20 seconds. After that precise moment, a domino effect will happen, as millions of people throughout North America look up, and wait for their turn to watch as the moon covers 100 percent of the sun’s disk.

The path of totality is how the National Solar Observatory describes the linear area where the full eclipse can be viewed. It touches Mazatlán, Durango, Torreón, and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico; Austin and Dallas, Texas; Little Rock, Arkansas; Indianapolis; Dayton, Toledo, and Cleveland, Ohio; Buffalo, New York; Toronto; Burlington, Vermont; Montreal; and Nova Scotia.

A total solar eclipse (ESA/CESAR/Wouter van Reeven/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO DEED)

With just a few days left before the historic happening, many people are buying special spectacles and migrating to these destinations to catch a glimpse. Despite its magnanimity, the global moment starts and stops in less than five minutes. For architects, artists, and general enthusiasts looking for cool stuff to see in the meantime on the path of totality, AN rounded up a list of sites to check out.

And as per NASA, be sure to wear proper eye wear!

El Faro Lighthouse is 515 feet above sea level, marking North America’s highest operating lighthouse. (Stan Shebs/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0)

1. El Faro Lighthouse | Mazatlán, Mexico

Did you know that North America’s highest operating lighthouse is in Mazatlán, Mexico? Perched 515 feet above sea level on a steep mountainside, El Faro Lighthouse has guided ships into the coastal city of Mazatlán, known as Mexico’s “Pacific Pearl,” since the 1820s. In those days, Mazatlán’s port facilitated on average 60 ships daily. Now, the port is less busy, but El Faro Lighthouse still offers sweeping views of the region—not a bad place to be during a total solar eclipse!

Gran Acuario de Mazatlán by Tatiana Bilbao ESTUDIO (Juan Manuel McGrath)

2. Gran Acuario de Mazatlán | Tatiana Bilbao ESTUDIO | Mazatlán, Mexico

A new Brutalist aquarium designed by Tatiana Bilbao opened its doors last May in Mazatlán. The project was recently reviewed for AN by contributor . Gran Acuario de Mazatlán is nothing short of monumental. The aquarium’s thick concrete walls rise several stories into the air, demarcating a labyrinthine series of spaces where visitors can experience sea life and verdant foliage.

Pancho Villa’s childhood home in Durango (Courtesy Google Maps)

3. Casa de Pancho Villa | Durango, Mexico

Rancho de la Coyotada is the hacienda where Mexican folk hero Pancho Villa was born in 1878. From there, he befriended Emiliano Zapata and led the Mexican Revolution to overthrow the dictator Porfirio Díaz in 1911. Villa was instrumental in building a new democratic government. After his death in 1923, his remains were buried at Mexico City’s Monument to the Mexican Revolution, an extremely high honor. Today, his childhood home in Durango stands as a house museum for the revolutionary leader.

MARCO was completed by Ricardo Legorreta in 1991. (Hari Seldon/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0)

4. Museum of Contemporary Art of Monterrey (MARCO) | Monterrey, Mexico

Completed by Ricardo Legorreta in 1991, MARCO is a world-renowned arts and cultural center in Mexico’s Nuevo León state. There, an exhibition is currently on view about the landscape architecture of Roberto Burle Marx designed by LANZA Atelier. As reported by AN, In the Garden—curated by Magnolia de la Garza, director of the Isabel and Agustín Coppel Collection (CIAC)—offers visitors space for contemplating how plant elements and gardens are depicted in different media like photography, painting, and etching.

The town of Luck, designed by Willie Nelson in 1986, was restored by Cushing Terrell. (Casey Dunn)

5. Luck Ranch | Willie Nelson | Texas

The pop-up town of Luck is a short drive from AustinTexas designed by Willie Nelson (yes, that Willie Nelson) for a 1986 full-length film he produced and starred in, Red Headed Stranger, that was never torn down after production ended. Luck is an Old West Potemkin Village of sorts that can easily be confused with the fictional town of Rock Ridge in Blazing Saddles starring Mel Brooks, Cleavon Little, and Gene Wilder. Recently, architects from Cushing Terrell restored Luck as a concert and entertainment venue, it would also make a fun backdrop for viewing the eclipse.

The 500,000-square-foot sports and entertainment venue completed in 1977 is now being demolished. (Courtesy Atelier Wong Photography)

6. Frank Erwin Center | Wilson, Crain & Anderson | Austin, Texas

In 1977, a gargantuan sports arena was completed by Wilson, Crain & Anderson for UT Austin. The 500,000-square-foot sports and entertainment venue was designed by the same architects as Houston’s Astrodome. In 2014, UT Austin announced that it would phase out the Erwin Center with a new arena, completed in 2022. Now, the Erwin Center is being demolished, exposing its drum and creating a very Instagram-worthy photo op. The site will be cleared for new facilities for the Houston-based MD Anderson Cancer Center. If you happen to be near Austin for the solar eclipse, go see it while you still can.

7. The Texas Woofus | Lawrence Tenney Stevens | Dallas, Texas

For the 1936 Texas Centennial Exposition, an artist named Lawrence Tenney Stevens completed a sculpture that, let’s say, “bucked” current trends. The Texas Woofus is a massive equestrian sculpture that combines a turkey’s tail, a horse’s mane, a pig’s body and hooves, duck wings, a sheep’s head, and, naturally, Texas longhorns. In 1941, a gaggle of Evangelical Christians stormed the sculpture and tore it down: They believed it was a pagan idol. Sixty years later, a group of art aficionados reconstructed the Texas Woofus, which is now on view at 1403 Washington Street in Dallas.

Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts (Iwan Baan)

8. Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts | Little Rock, Arkansas

Last year, Studio Gang and SCAPE led an expansion for the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts in Little Rock. The expansion, together with Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects, restored the museum’s original 1937 facade, as reported by AN.

Indianapolis Pyramids by Kevin Roche (Jimmy Baikovicius/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED)

9. Indianapolis Pyramids | Kevin Roche | Indianapolis, Indiana

The late Irish architect Kevin Roche elevated the corporate campus typology to the monumental. In Indianapolis, Roche designed three, eleven-story towers for the College Life Insurance Company. All three pyramids, completed in the early-1970s, overlook a 25-acre artificial lake. Later, Roche said the forms were inspired by a raw chunk of concrete he saw on the side of the road.

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame at sunset (Derek Jensen/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain)

10. Rock & Roll Hall of Fame | I. M. Pei | Cleveland

Another famous homage to Giza’s pyramids in the U.S. takes place on the shores of Lake Erie. In 1993, I. M. Pei completed the Rock & Hall of Fame in Cleveland, the birthplace of rock, christened with an opening ceremony led by Chuck Berry. Since the 1990s, the museum has hosted the annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony which welcomes new musicians into its ranks. Now, Practice for Architecture & Urbanism (PAU) and Field Operations are leading an addition to the museum, as reported by AN last September.

New addition by OMA and Cooper Robertson (Marco Cappelletti)

11. Buffalo AKG Art Museum addition | OMA/Cooper Robertson | Buffalo, New York

Last year, OMA and Cooper Robertson completed a new addition at the Buffalo AKG Art Museum, reviewed for AN by contributor . This latest addition by OMA and Cooper Robertson builds upon the institution’s impressive portfolio: It’s sited not far from the neoclassical 1905 Robert and Elisabeth Wilmers Building, and the 1962 Seymour H. Knox Building by Buffalo native and SOM archduke Gordon Bunshaft.

Staging Grounds installs a new drainage system and native vegetation underneath the Gardiner Expressway. (Samuel Engelking)

12. Staging Grounds | Agency—Agency and SHEEEP | Toronto

Directly below Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway, an art installation on view through 2025 by Agency—Agency and SHEEEP transforms a derelict milieu underneath a highway into an evocative art destination. As reported by AN, Staging Grounds inserts meandering pathways above a bed of river rocks at the intersection of Dan Leckie Way and Lake Shore Boulevard. Blue drainage pipes and filtration chambers fixed to the “bents”—the steel-reinforced concrete column-and-beam structures supporting the roadway from which the linear park gets its moniker—water the collection of plants sprouting from the circular garden beds situated at various points along the walkway.

Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (JAM Creative)

13. Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception | Edward Larrabee Barnes and Dan Kiley | Burlington, Vermont

In 1977, Edward Larrabee Barnes and Dan Kiley completed a stunning church in the center of Burlington, Vermont. But since 2018, it’s sat unused and now faces active demolition, as reported by AN. After the demolition announcement, preservation groups like Docomomo stepped in to try and save it. The recent court decision which called for its demolition has since been appealed to the Vermont Supreme Court, and preservationists are confident the Cathedral can be saved.

Montreal’s Olympic Tower, which is now known as the Montreal Tower (Stéphane Brügger /Courtesy Provencher_Roy)

14. Montreal Tower | Provencher_Roy/Roger Taillibert | Montreal

Montreal is a city replete with midcentury gems, including the recently restored Expo 67 site that touts its own Bucky dome. Recently, Montreal’s iconic Olympic Tower (now the Montreal Tower) by Roger Taillibert was repurposed as an office complex. The restoration was led by Provencher_Roy, a local office. As reported by AN, the Olympic Tower is the tallest inclined tower in the world at 541 feet. It has long been home to a popular observatory that’s accessible to the public via a glass-encased funicular; however, the rest of the interior space within the tilting, Roger Taillibert–designed structure has remained mostly empty. Desjardins is now the first (and only) major tenant to occupy it in over 30 years.

Addition by KPMB (Doublespace)

15. Beaverbrook Art Gallery | New Brunswick, Nova Scotia

An expansion to the Beaverbrook Art Gallery led by KPMB recently opened its doors to the public in New Brunswick. As reported by AN, the building’s facade features thin concrete columns that rhythmically edge the street. Currently on view at Beaverbrook is a retrospective indebted to artist Kathy Hooper, entitled Mountains of Wonder and Tangles of Truth.