This cultural landscape underscores the urbanistic concept behind a large complex of buildings created between 1919 and the Second World War. It includes the former housing units for officers, sergeants and corporals, and the soldiers’ barracks that were located on the Central Quadrangle and the Lakes Park. The campus highlights the architectural hierarchy and symmetry, as well as a sense of harmony and large open spaces that encourage peaceful contemplation.
The fort’s original design –-with its horseshoe-shaped layout and buildings inspired by the neoclassical style-– was created by the renowned architect Samuel M. Hitt, who was also responsible for finishing the Canal’s Administration Building in Balboa and for the grand project for the Gorgas Hospital in Ancon.
Later buildings from the 1930s and 1940s, although they were strictly modern in their functionality, display noteworthy Spanish neocolonial details (a style known in Panama as “bellavistino”) and, in some cases, Art Deco features, as well as prominent eaves y red tile roofs. They were designed by architects such as Rolland C. Buckley, who also created the plans for important buildings in the city’s historic district, and Harold W. Sander, one of the founders of the Modern Movement in Panama. It was Sander who, together with Octavio Méndez Guardia and Edward Durell Stone, designed the much-admired Hotel El Panama (1951). The Panamanian company of Wright & Schay, which designed emblematic buildings in the Bella Vista neighborhood, also made its mark in Clayton, where it was responsible for the design of the base’s former movie theater, now transformed into the City of Knowledge’s Athenaeum.
The City of Knowledge Master Plan for Urban Development, which establishes the obligatory conservation of the main architectural complexes, foresees the preservation of these and other infrastructural components.
Today, the former residence of one of Fort Clayton’s first commanders provides the location for the City of Knowledge Interpretation Center. The house has a permanent exhibition that offers the public a narrative of the Clayton site’s historic significance from a Panamanian perspective. In addition, the exhibit describes the City of Knowledge project and shows the transformation that has been taking place on its campus, as well as the projects that are carried out for the conservation and enhancement of its legacy.