Habana Hilton Hotel

Above the multi-level plinth, the rooms occupy twenty-one identical floors, each one identified by the deep balcony that protected its glass walls. At both ends of the vertical slab, the en-suite living rooms are boldly cantilevered from the frame that establishes its edges. The broad façade is broken symmetrically by a wide vertical recess section that masks the vertical circulation and visually appears to be a skeletal structure that supports the massive grid. In contrast with the innovative distribution system adopted at the Edificio Seguro Médico and the FOCSA, the interior circulation was entirely artificial and again suggested the most extreme privacy.[i] The lobby recalls a colonial courtyard in outer space, both through its spatial forms, and the flat cupola made up of dozens of circular skylights almost make the roof disappear. The central staircase goes up to the second-floor lobby, recalling the Spanish Colonial courtyard on a modern scale. Cuban artist Amelia Peláez’s beautiful blue and white tiled mosaics provides a horizontal axis visually countering the building’s dramatic verticality. Pelaéz’s mural and the other works of art by René Portocarrero and Cundo Bermúdez are rich of decorative elements that drew influence from Cuban modern art, the Moorish mosaics of Cuba’s 19th and early 20th century creole architecture, and the colonial era vitrales or stained-glass windows.[ii]

[i] See Chapter Three.

[ii] For more discussion of the integration of the arts, see Chapter Five.