2012-10-12 Unfinished Spaces: Revolution or Progress?

 The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture and The American Institute of Architects New York Chapter will present Unfinished Spaces, an award-winning new documentary by Alysa Nahmias and Benjamin Murray, at The Cooper Unionís Great Hall, Friday 12 October. A round-table discussion with Unfinished Spaces co-creators Benjamin Murray and Alysa Nahmias and Patricio Del Real, moderated by Cooper Unionís Associate Professor Adjunct of Architecture Pablo Lorenzo-Eiroa will explore the impact of architecture on revolution and the role of revolution in shaping architectural expression.


The round table discussion will follow the screening of the documentary film Unfinished Spaces, which tells the story of the Cuban Revolution through the prism of the National Art Schools buildings. The film traces the evolution of these buildings and urges us to see them as a lens through which we can study the impact of political and cultural revolution on architecture--and architecture's role in shaping such change. Independently from whether these buildings were revolutionary or not for the discipline, their revolutionary forms in reaction to previous modern structures represent the revolutionary spirit of their time, where multiple post-structuralist positions were initiated.

Architecture, as a cultural discipline, historically based its advancement on a continuous state of revolution. On the contrary, by more recently defining its project on the idea of infinite progress, contemporary architecture defines its avant-garde by continuously indexing technology. The round table discussion will be centered on the tension between these two modes of advancement in regards to current structuralist theories and post-structuralist reactions.

The screening and round-table discussion will take place from 6.30pm to approximately 9.30pm on Friday, October 12, 2012, and will be a co-presentation of the Cooper Union Architecture School and AIA's series of Archtober events, planned in collaboration with Unfinished Spaces filmmakers Alysa Nahmias and Ben Murray. In addition to the filmmakers, the round-table will also include a variety of voices from New York's architecture community. Associate Dean Elizabeth O'Donnell will introduce the event.

About Unfinished Spaces
In 1961, three young, visionary architects -- Robert Gottardi, Ricardo Porro and Vittorio Garatti -- were commissioned by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara to create Cubaís National Art Schools on the grounds of a former golf course in Havana. Construction of their radical designs began immediately and the schoolís first classes soon followed. Dancers, musicians and artists from all over the country reveled in the beauty of the schools, but as the dream of the Revolution became Sovietized, the project was suddenly denounced as bourgeois and counter-revolutionary, and construction was abruptly halted. Using these radical, magnificent buildings as a prism through which we see the turbulent, ever-shifting history of Castro's Cuba, Unfinished Spaces follows the fates of the three architects, now in their 80s, who may now get a second chance to revitalize their utopian project.