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Posted September 16, 2004 by publisher in Cuban Architecture

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Linda Myers | [url=http://www.news.cornell.edu]http://www.news.cornell.edu[/url]

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Las Ruinas, a restaurant built in 1972 on the ruins of an 18th-century sugar mill in Lenin Park, Havana, is an example of Cuban Revolution architecture, one of the subjects that will be explored at the “Havana and Miami: Modernism and the City” conference at Cornell this Friday and Saturday. Mary N. Woods/Provided

The past and future of modernism in Havana and Miami as it is embodied in art, buildings and landscapes is the subject of a conference at Cornell this Friday and Saturday, Sept. 17-18.

The conference, “Havana and Miami: Modernism and the City,” brings together artists, designers, curators and historians. Conference talks and panel discussions take place in Goldwin Smith Hall’s Hollis E. Cornell auditorium. All events are free and open to the public. For details see this Web site: http://www.geocities.com/havmimo

“Beginning in the 1920s and 1930s, Havana and Miami created distinctive national and regional interpretations of modernism,” said Mary Woods, associate professor of architectural history in the College of Architecture, Art and Planning and organizer of the conference. “Discussions about modern Havana and Miami are especially timely,” she said. “Today the media, heritage tourism, globalization and urban revitalization pose threats and opportunities for these two cities.” Expressions of modernism there have already been influenced, for good and ill, by “New Deal politicians, Cuban dictators, American corporations and the Cuban Revolution,” she said.

Conference participants include Cuban and American artists, designers and historians who have made seminal contributions as well as Cornell faculty and others who are just beginning to explore and interpret modern Havana and Miami, said Woods. In addition, faculty from all three departments of the College of Architecture, Art and Planning (AAP), as well as faculty from history, landscape architecture and hotel administration are participating.

Two scholars from Cuba who hoped to attend were denied U.S. visas, but they will instead present at a later conference, on international art deco architecture, organized by Woods in Mumbai (formerly Bombay), India, where AAP and Cornell have growing ties.

As part of the Cornell Havana and Miami conference, Eduardo Luis Rodr�guez, Havana architect and historian, will present a keynote address Sept. 18 at 9 a.m. Rodr�guez, a Guggenheim and Rockefeller fellow, is the leading scholar and advocate of Cuban modern architecture.

Among the other participants are Jorge Rigau, B.Arch. ‘74, founder and dean of the New School of Architecture, Polytechnic Institute, Puerto Rico, the winner (with Andres Duany) of a MacArthur grant to create a master plan for Havana; and Arva Moore Parks, author and historian and a leader in the south Florida preservation movement, who helped rescue the George Merrick House and Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables.

The conference grew out of a study tour Woods and Medina Lasansky, assistant professor of architecture, made to Cuba in 2001-02 as well as a long-standing interest in the Department of Architecture that includes design studios on Cuba taught by Professor Milton Curry and architectural history seminars and courses taught by Woods and by Lasansky, who has published on Cuban architecture. Lasansky also curated the accompanying exhibition of Cuban film posters in Sibley Hall’s Hartell Gallery, which runs through Sept. 18. The show complements a Cuban film series featuring works by Cuban masters Humberto Solas and Fernando Perez, shown by Cornell Cinema this September and October as well as in 2005.

The conference is supported by grants from the Cornell Council for the Arts’ initiative on art and politics and the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Visual Arts, by AAP and by these nine Cornell departments and programs: American Studies, Latin American Studies, Society for the Humanities, University Lectures, Landscape Architecture, Art, International Studies in Planning, AAP Multicultural Affairs and the Clarence Stein Institute.

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