National Schools of Art of Havana receive Getty Foundation Awards


[Many thanks to Michael Connors for bringing this item to our attention.] The full title of the article is “Getty Foundation Awards 11 Modern Architectural Conservation Grants across Nine Countries.” This time, the National Schools of Art of Havana educational complex received the award. Antoine Wilmering (The Iris) writes:

It is hard to believe that we are now already in the fifth year of Keeping It Modern, the Getty Foundation’s grantmaking initiative focused on the conservation of twentieth-century architecture. Since 2014 we have supported 54 projects in 28 countries that support the preservation of significant modern buildings, most often through the development of conservation management plans.

Our grants are just as global as modern architecture itself, with projects supported across all of Europe and the United States as well as in Africa, Asia, Australia, former Soviet Republics, Latin America, and the Middle East. [. . .]

This year we have awarded our first Keeping It Modern grant for a building in Cuba, which is home to an eclectic array of modern architecture. The grant will support research and planning for the preservation of the National Schools of Art of Havana, an educational complex—made of local brick, mortar, and ceramic tiles—that was designed to train Cuba’s young people in “the integration of art, architecture, and landscape in a spirit of equality, freedom, and intercultural exchange.”

Though the site fell out of political favor in 1965 and was shut down, it has endured to today, but not without significant deterioration. In 2000, 2002, and 2016, the World Monuments Fund placed the site on its World Monuments Watch list, a call to action for structures facing either daunting threats or compelling opportunities for protection, conservation, and engagement.

With the Getty Foundation’s support, an international team of conservation professionals from the Politecnico di Milano, Princeton University, and Universitá di Parma, together with one of the original architects, Vittorio Garatti, will collect and evaluate all historical documentation, conduct technical studies on materials, test technical solutions on small pilot sites, create computer models for flood risk assessment and mitigation, and study energy and environmental sustainability in order to develop a conservation management plan that includes adaptive reuse. The project will also provide training opportunities for Cuban conservation professionals, building local support and expertise.

The art schools have been on the minds of heritage conservation professionals for decades, so having a team of international experts undertake the first crucial steps toward preserving the site is an exciting moment. [. . .]

[National Schools of Art of Havana. School of Ballet roof passage and domes. Photo courtesy of Vittorio Garatti Archive.]

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