Mario Romañach Paniagua (1917, Havana – March 8, 1984, Philadelphia) graduated from the School of Architecture at the University of Havana in 194???, having participated in the “Burning of Vignola” ceremony.[1] In 1944 he worked with Pedro Martínez Inclán and Antonio Quintana in the Luyanó housing estate, south of the Havana Bay. He established his private practice in collaboration with the architect Silverio Bosch. Together they produced several award-winning projects in residential designs, including the house of Julia Cueto de Noval in the Country Club neighborhood (1948), earning a Gold Medal from the College of Architects, the house for José Noval Cueto (1949), the house of Evangelina Aristigueta de Vidaña (1953), which also received a Gold Medal, and the houses of Ana Carolina Font (1956), and Rufino Alvarez (1957), both in the Reparto Biltmore neighborhood of Havana. He was responsible for several important housing projects, including the apartment building of Josefina Odoardo (1953), the apartment building of Evangelina Aristigueta de Vidaña (1956), and the apartment building of the Goods and Bonds Investment Co. (1956-1958). His design of the shoe store, Pelleteria California (1951), is his only recognized commercial structure in Havana. Perhaps more important than his architectural practice was his participation in the Plan Piloto for the National Planning Board in 1956 with José Luis Sert, Paul Lester Weiner, Nicolás Arroyo, and Paul Schulz. Romañach left Cuba in 1959, after which he kept combining both his professional and academic pursuits; he was a Visiting Critic at Harvard (1959), an Associate professor at Cornell (1960-62), and after 1963, a full Professor at the Graduate School of Fine Arts at the University of Pennsylvania and Chair of the Department of Architecture from 1971-74. He also worked as a designer in New York for the firm of Kelly & Gruzen, with whom he developed the Spanish and American Express pavilions for the 1964 World Fair, as well as the Chatham Towers in Manhattan. After Kelly & Gruzen, Romañach went into partnership with G. Holmes Perkins in Philadelphia, with whom he developed the Penn Superblocks at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1975, he established the Romañach Partnership with his daughter Maria who still runs the practice today.

 

[1] Rodríguez, La Habana, arquitectura del siglo XX, 269-91; ídem, “Mario Romañach,” in in Diccionario Akal de la arquitectura del siglo XX, pp. 782-83; “Gómez Díaz, De Forestier a Sert, 506-59; Sambricio, “Notas bio-bibliográficas,” 61; and G. Holmes Perkins, “The Romañach Partnership,” in J.F. Ogorman (ed.), Drawing Toward Building: Philadelphia Architectural Graphics, 1732-1986 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1986), 245-47. See also the “Mario J. Romañach Collection,” The Architectural Archives, University of Pennsylvania, No. 48.