Ricardo Porro, the leading architect behind Cuba’s National Art Schools - one of the largest architectural achievements of the Cuban Revolution – has died of heart failure in Paris at the age of 89. After spending nearly a half a century in exile, Porro lived long enough to see his two arts schools reemerged on the world stage as “crown jewels of modern Cuban architecture.”
“When I received this commission, I thought there had not been a good expression of revolution in architecture,” Porro said in a 2011 interview with The Atlantic. “I wanted to create in that school the expression of revolution. What I felt at that moment was an emotional explosion.” Read the full New York Times obituary, here.
“Unfinished Spaces” is a critically acclaimed documentary about the ambitious design and construction of the Escuelas Nacionales de Arte, or National Art School in Havana, Cuba in 1961, which was to feature schools of ballet, modern dance, music, drama and plastic arts. The university was the brain child of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara who wanted to establish a prestigious, cutting-edge arts university for the people of Cuba. The project was abandoned due to cut funding and ideological differences, but the three architects responsible for the design, Ricardo Porro, Vittorio Garatti and Roberto Gottardi, were still excited when in March 1999 they were called to lay out a budget to preserve the languished schools.
Read on for more on the history of the Escuelas Nacionales de Arte and images of the campus.