EXHIBITION | Mario Romañach: "Do you love architecture?"

When: Monday, December 4, 2017— Monday, May 14, 2018

Where: Harvey & Irwin Kroiz Gallery, Architectural Archives | 220 South 34th Street, Philadelphia

Introduction from Architectural Archives

A beloved teacher at the University of Pennsylvania and a visionary architect who transformed modern architecture in his native Cuba in the years before the Revolution, Mario Romañach (1917-84) saw architecture, not as an abstract phenomenon to be developed though analytical techniques, but rather, as a discipline which made full sense only when framed in terms of human experience. “Architecture...you’ve got to touch it,” he would say, and it was that sensuous, experiential connection to buildings, cities, and landscapes that animated his art and inspired his students. 

Marking the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Romañach’s birth, this exhibition presents a survey of his work, ranging from his groundbreaking residential designs in Havana to large-scale urban redevelopment plans for the West Side of New York City.

Born in Havana, Romañach, was educated in turbulent decades marked by prosperity, depression, war, and changing artistic sensibilities. His uncle, the painter Leopoldo Romañach, was a significant influence. Formal training in architecture came at the University of Havana. In the fourteen year period between 1945 and 1959, Romañach established a successful practice initially based on residential projects. These works, and his later large-scale urban planning, demonstrate his firm commitment to the ideals of the modern movement shaped and enriched by an understanding of local conditions and an interest in Cuban and Spanish culture. 

Exiled from Cuba, Romañach and his family arrived in the United States during the fall of 1959. The practice that had been the center of his artistic world collapsed, never to be fully regained. Teaching, at first, provided for his transition, but then became his life’s work. That energy - so tied to building - ultimately was channeled to his students; a love of architecture perpetuated.