SAH News

SAH Study Tour to Cuba Sells Out in Minutes

by Belmont Freeman | Sep 20, 2012
The SAH Study Tour to Cuba sold out in minutes - one of the fastest tour registrations in SAH history. What makes this tour unique?

Taking advantage of the US Treasury Department’s newly-liberalized Cuba travel policies, SAH has designed an educational travel program that satisfies the Department’s criteria for “people-to-people” cultural exchange. Tour participants, for the first time since the travel ban imposed nine years ago, will be able to experience the architectural and natural wonders of the island, astonishingly well preserved by the country’s 50-year resistance to, and isolation from, globalized development pressures and cultural homogenization. At the same time we will witness the effects, good and bad, of Cuba’s growing tourism industry - certain to alter the character of the place profoundly once the inevitable lifting the US embargo allows Americans to join the rest of the world in freely visiting the island. This is a good moment to visit Cuba.

Bigger Scope

Compared to SAH’s past tours to Cuba (the last in 2003), the present tour is significantly more ambitious in scope, covering, in thirteen days, territory from the province of Artemisa in the west to Oriente in the east. The tour group will convene in Miami [participants are to arrange their own travel to Miami] for a welcome reception and an introductory lecture on Cuban geography, history and architecture. The next morning we board a charter flight for the 50-minute hop to Havana - so close yet a world apart. Our first week in Cuba will concentrate on Havana and environs, examining the colonial architecture of the old city, the eclectic architecture that transformed the city in the early days of the Republic, early and mid-century modernism, and the radical design experiments of the post-revolution period. In Havana our headquarters will be the grand and historic Hotel Nacional. The second week will take us on an overland journey (in a luxury motor coach) through a string of historic cities - and beautiful countryside - ending up in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba’s #2 city and very Caribbean counterpart to cosmopolitan Havana. Hotels along the way have been chosen for their location, ambiance, architectural character and variety. From Santiago we will fly directly back to Miami, meaning that all internal travel in Cuba will be by land.

Designed for SAH members

This is a tour highly customized to suit the interests of SAH members, taking us to sites not found in the guide books and including many nor ordinarily open to the public. The tour will be led by Belmont Freeman, FAIA, an architect and scholar of Cuban descent whose extensive travel, research, writing and lecturing have established him as a leading expert on the architecture of Cuba. Along the way we will meet with Cuban architects and historians, to engage meaningful dialog on topics of architecture, urban policy and preservation, adding depth to participants’ appreciation of Cuba. Friendly Planet Travel, an agency licensed to coordinate travel to and within Cuba and with many years of experience operating on the island, is managing the logistics of the tour to ensure, to the fullest extent possible, a smooth, safe and comfortable journey.

We look forward to a great visit in Cuba. For more details, view the SAH 2012 Cuba Tour Itinerary.

-       Belmont Freeman, FAIA, Cuba Study Tour Leader


About the tour leader:

Belmont Freeman is principal of Belmont Freeman Architects, an award-winning design firm in New York City. Since the founding of his practice in 1986, Mr. Freeman has earned a wide reputation as an innovative designer, a progressive practitioner and a scholar. His work has received numerous awards and is regularly featured in the international design press. Belmont Freeman Architects’ varied portfolio of built work includes projects for major universities and cultural institutions, and numerous commercial and private residential clients in North America, Europe and Asia.

From 1997 to 2008 Belmont Freeman was the President of the Board of Directors of Storefront for Art & Architecture, an internationally known not-for-profit design gallery in New York City. He has served on the Board of Governors of the Association of Yale Alumni and the Board of Directors of the Society of Architectural Historians. Mr. Freeman is an adjunct associate professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation.

An American of Cuban descent, Belmont Freeman’s extensive travel, research, writing and lecturing have established him as a leading expert on the subject of Cuban architecture. In 2004 he co-produced, at Storefront for Art and Architecture, the landmark exhibition “Architecture and Revolution in Cuba, 1959-1969,” which examined the remarkable avant-garde design produced in Cuba during the first, heroic phase of the revolution. He is currently collaborating with the Cuban architect, historian and curator Eduardo Luis Rodríguez on a book of the same title.