The first plans for an all-embracing "University City" campus can be found in a thesis presented by architecture students in 1929. These plans called for the University to be built on a site in the south of the city known as Huipilco. It was not until 1945, however, that the appropriations act regarding the "foundation and construction of Ciudad Universitaria" was finally decreed.
The design of the campus was awarded to architects Mario Pani, Enrique Moral and Mauricio M. Campos whose plans were chosen from among those submitted in a contest held in the National Architecture School. The architect Mauricio M. Campos died in the interim, however, and coordination of the project fell to his colleagues who assigned the design of each building to a different architect.Groundbreaking occurred in 1949, but soon floundered due to insufficient funding. In order to secure the support of President Miguel Aleman, the University Patrons Foundation was reorganized. Bank of Mexico President Carlos Novoa was tapped to preside and Eduardo Suarez and David Thierry were also seated on the board. These personages allowed the foundation to approach the Mexican President and thereby procure the funding needed to continue work on the project.
Thereafter, the Project Layout Office was instituted under the direction of Mario Pani and Carlos Lazo. This office was charged with overseeing construction operations, landscaping open areas between buildings and ensuring the fundamental harmony and unity of the entire project. The campus was designed on the principle of maximizing communication between faculties. With input from professors, students and researchers, the designers included the Museum of Art in order to showcase the wide expanse of Mexican art through time. With the help of the University Patrons Foundation, Carlos Lazo was able to carry through the construction plans in an orderly, economic and expedient manner, with major work finished in less than three years. On November 20, 1952, President Miguel Aleman presided over the Ciudad Universitaria dedication ceremony.