SAH News

Belmont Freeman: Obituary for Cuban Architect Mario Coyula Cowley

by SAH News | Jul 09, 2014
SAH member Belmont Freeman, FAIA, is the founding principal of Belmont Freeman Architects in New York and an adjunct associate professor at Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. An American of Cuban descent, Freeman has written and lectured widely on the subject of Cuban architecture.

The celebrated Cuban architect and urban planner Mario Coyula Cowley died in Havana on July 7, after a long battle with cancer. He was 79 years old. During his career Coyula was director of the School of Architecture at the Instituto Superior Politécnico José Antonio Echeverria (ISPJAE), head of the Group for the Integral Development of the Capital, founding president of the Monuments Commission of Havana, and director of the Office of Architecture and Urbanism of the City of Havana—all prestigious posts in the Cuban architectural community. In 2013 he was awarded the Premio Nacional de Patrimonio Cultural, the country's highest honor for cultural contribution

Coyula was born in 1935 into a distinguished Havana family of intellectuals and civic leaders. He was an exceptional member of the upper class intelligentsia who chose to remain in Cuba after the revolution and to apply his talents to the socialist experiment, and who endured. During the turmoil that led up to the triumph of the revolution on January 1, 1959, Coyula was a student activist (the school of architecture at the University of Havana being one of the more radical entities in support of the revolution).

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