While we collectively fret about Paul Rudolph schools getting bulldozed and Mies van der Rohe classics suffering flood waters, it seems as though we can’t hold a candle to what’s going on in Havana right now. According to a great piece in the Sun Sentinel, the city’s collection of treasured architecture is rapidly falling deteriorating. Thanks mostly to little upkeep and few restoration efforts, resulting in either complete destruction already or buildings that are quickly on their way. While some groups like UNESCO have stepped in and managed to save a building here and there, there is still a great volume still well on their way to extinction. And how it got to be this bad and why there hasn’t been more effort is also up for debate:
“These jewels are disappearing,” said Nicolas Quintana, a Cuban-born professor of architecture at Florida International University. “Time is the biggest enemy.”
Quintana, who was considered one of Cuba’s renowned architects when he left in 1960, said the neglect of modern architecture was politically motivated. “It represents the work of the republic, and Fidel would prefer to see it totally eliminated,” he said, referring to ailing former President Fidel Castro.
Other architecture experts said just the opposite is true: A half century of communist rule saved the capital’s stunning architecture from developers, even though a lack of money for repairs has taken a toll.