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Santa Monica Library to Screen Documentary About Cuba's Decaying Art Schools

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

By Lookout Staff

April 8, 2013 -- On Sunday April 21, the Santa Monica Public Library will screen “Unfinished Spaces,” a documentary about three architects exiled by the same revolutionaries who commissioned them to build Cuba's avant-garde National Art Schools in Havana.

After the screening, hosted by the southern California chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians (SAH/SCC), there will be a panel discussion with experts on Cuban architecture and SAH/SCC members.

“In 1961, three young architects were commissioned by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara to create Cuba's National Art Schools on the grounds of a former golf course in Havana,” explains a SAH/SCC synopsis of the film.

“Construction of the radical designs began immediately and the school’s first classes soon followed,” the synopsis reads. “As the dream of the revolution waned, construction was abruptly halted and the architects deemed irrelevant in the prevailing political climate.”

The film looks back on the unfinished schools, forty years after construction ended and the architects exiled.

What was built of the schools are used today, though the unfinished infrastructure continues to decay.

“Castro has invited the exiled architects back to finish their unrealized dream," the synopsis reads. "This fascinating documentary chronicles the site’s design, decay, and potential rebirth,”

The post-film panel discussion promises to engage anyone with an interest in architecture and history. It includes SAH/SCC Advisory Board and Life Members Stephen Harby and Ken Breisch, along with SAH/SCC Member Peter Moruzzi.

“Harby has led several architectural study tours to Havana. Breisch is SAH National First Vice President and a professor of architectural history at the USC School of Architecture. Moruzzi is the author of Havana Before Castro: When Cuba Was a Tropical Playground,” SAH/SCC officials said.

The screening, which is free to the public, starts a 1 p.m. on Sunday April 21 in the Main Library's Martin Luther King, Jr. Auditorium.

Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. For information, call (310) 458-8600 or visit

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