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AD Classics: United States Embassy in Havana / Harrison & Abramovitz

01:00 - 6 January, 2015
AD Classics: United States Embassy in Havana / Harrison & Abramovitz

The United States’ diplomatic presence in Cuba is housed in a severe, early-1950s office building perched on the shoreline over Havana Bay. Walled off from the city and pulled back from the street, the building has the uneasy presence of a haunted castle – shunned and maligned by its neighbors, but subjected to the unending scrutiny of suspicious eyes and intrigued gossip of the locals. With its regimented orthogonalities and the unmistakably foreign imprint of modernist efficiencies, both the embassy's architecture and the optimistic political spirit it embodies seem to belong to another era, a cooperative past no longer conceivable in the wake of a half century of underhanded diplomacy, calumnious propaganda, and failed attempts to restore relations between the embattled countries.

Rear view. The mechanical additions from the 1997 renovation are visible on the roof. Image © Escla Pre-renovation photograph of the embassy. Image © U.S. Department of State © Bin im Garten © U.S. Department of State + 8