Havana Modern

Kindly contributed by Longitude founder Darrel Schoeling.

Photographer, author, popular lecturer and historian with a particular interest in Caribbean colonial fine and decorative arts, Michael Connors is currently on tour with his eighth book on Cuba, handsomely published by Rizzoli, Havana Modern, Twentieth-Century Architecture and Interiors. The book was inspired by 88-year-old Ricardo Porro, best known as lead architect for the National Schools of Art, who also provides the forward. Havana Modern showcases architecturally significant buildings and interiors across Havana, including both modernist icons and never-before photographed private homes and marvelous, under-appreciated interiors. Straying from the colonial center, seaside streets of Miramar, artsy Vedado and Havana’s posh Country Club Park area are all featured. Richard Neutra collaborated with a local firm to build the Casa de Alfred Von Schulthess, one of many modernist masterpieces from the 1950s, pictured here.

Havana Modern includes well-known landmarks like the Art Deco Bacardi building, stylishly modern Habana Riviera with its original 1957 interiors, and the remarkably futuristic National Schools of Art. The celebrated McKim, Mead and White jumble, Hotel Nacional, and extravagant Tropicana, naturally, get the most attention internationally but it is the unheralded buildings that really make an impression – and so badly need the attention.

 

Havana Modern is supported by Fundacion Amistad — Seeking understanding between the peoples of the United States and Cuba. Founder and President Luly Duke hosted a reception last week, which included Connors, who is on the board, fellow board member and friend Jean Gath (Thank you Jean for the invitation!) — and the guest of honor: Cuban architect, scholar and urban planner Miguel Coyula and his wife. Miguel emphatically made the point that despite the great success of La Habana Vieja that Cuba does not have a tradition of urban planning and preservation, a lack which most be addressed urgently. Havana Modern shows some of the riches outside the celebrated colonial center, some included on travel itineraries. What else can those of us in travel and tourism do to publicize and protect the diverse heritage of this great city? That would be an excellent project! The clock is ticking.