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2006 12 01
Havana Modern: The City And Its Astounding Architecture - Tonight
The Riviera Hotel, Havana

The Royal Ontario Museum is hosting a must attend event this evening:
The Astounding Architecture and Urban Design of Havana, Then and Now: History, Heritage and Challenges
Friday, December 1, 2006, 7pm
Harvard Adjunct Professor of Urban Design Lee Cott explores Cuba's Colonial, Déco and 1950s' Modern architecture.

Cott writes with insight on the history of Havana's architecture - including its great 50's Modern hotels:
On the other hand, and quite another matter, is the Hotel Riviera a few kilometers away along the Malecón, Havana’s equivalent of the Corniche. Opened in 1958 by Miami mobster Meyer Lansky, the Riviera caused quite a stir. Visitors gawked at its egg-shaped gold leafed casino while watching Ginger Rodgers in the nightclub’s opening act. It’s said that New York architect Philip Johnson proposed the original building design to his client, but that Johnson walked out on Meyer Lansky when his would-be client requested a taller building. As constructed, The Riviera is a stunning example of 1950’s “Miami Beach” hotel architecture. (figure 5) It is a graceful building with cantilevered curved balconies and an articulated structural concrete frame. Its elegant green, gray, and black color motif blend well with the sea, sky, and the Malecón. The 17-story tower stands alone—very much as originally intended—on a wide traffic island adjacent to a well-to-do neighborhood. The Riviera is an object building that stands alone from its neighborhood context, and therefore, sets itself apart from its immediate urban environment. (figure 6) Its Miami inspired design, reminiscent of the late Morris Lapidus at his best, which alone gives the building a certain level of curiosity, fails to carry it along as a successful piece of urban design.
[email this story] Posted by R Ouellette on 12/01 at 05:41 AM

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