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Bacardi Office Building
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Architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
Location Santiago de Cuba
Date 1958   timeline
Building Type office tower
 Construction System tropical
Climate urban
Context Modern
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Discussion Bacardi Office Building Commentary

"The opportunity of a prominent sloping site and the willingness of the client to consider an open office plan resulted in this design for the Bacardi Building in Cuba....

"The material of the roof and columns is reinforced concrete, which is more available than rolled mill steel in Cuba. The roof measures 180 feet square with intersecting ribs placed 11 feet apart. The ribs deepen in three stages from 5 feet at the edge beam to 6.5 feet in the center portion. The differences are concealed by a suspended ceiling 20 feet above floor level. The roof structure is post- tensioned by cables placed within the ribs and edge beams. It is supported by eight columns of tapered cruciform section with a cast steel hinge connection with the roof. The line of glass is recessed 20 feet behind the supports forming an interior space 141 feet square. Extruded bronze mullions frame grey-tinted plate glass. Only a single mechanical core interrupts the interior yet this element together with necessary lengths of storage cabinets and a open stairway are utilized in a poised arrangement as a contrast to the severe structural symmetry.

"The stepped approach to the entrance suggests a miniature acropolis whose precinct is defined by partially enclosing brick walls. Against one vine-covered wall and stretching the length of the granite-paved podium is a reflecting pool set with a double row of tiny fountains. The serenity of this pavilion results from extracting only the necessary structural and physical requirements and endowing them with a ceremonial grandeur more common in religious architecture than in office design."

— A. James Speyer. Mies van der Rohe. p78.

The Creator's Words

"I refuse to invent a new architecture every Monday morning. It took the Greeks centuries to perfect the Doric column and perfection is the ultimate concern."

— Mies van der Rohe. from Mies van der Rohe. Less is More. p.128.

"Industrialisation of the process of construction is a question of new materials. Our first consideration therefore must be to find a new building material. Our technologists must and will succeed in inventing a material which can be industrially manufactured and processed and which will be weatherproof, soundproof and insulating. It must be a light material which not only permits but requires industrial production. All the parts will be made in the factory and the work at the site will consist only of assemblage, requiring extremely few man hours. This will greatly reduce building costs. Then the new architecture will come into its own. I am convinced that traditional methods of building will disappear. In case anyone regrets that the house of the future can no longer be made by hand workers, it should be borne in mind that the automobile is no longer manufactured by carriage makers."

— Mies van der Rohe. originally in G, no. 3. from Martin Pawley, introduction and notes. Library of Contemporary Architects: Mies van der Rohe. p13.

Resources
Sources on Bacardi Office Building

Francis D. K. Ching. Architecture: Form, Space, and Order. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1979. ISBN 0-442-21535-5. LC 79-18045. NA2760.C46. lobby perspective drawing, p37.

Martin Pawley, ed. Mies van der Rohe. Photographs by Yukio Futagawa. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1970. SBN 671-20691-5. LC 73-119717. NA M65 A513 1970. discussion, p13. photo of interior, f72. photo of exterior black-painted steel curtain walling with support columns, f70.

Mies van der Rohe. Less is More. Zurich: Waser Verlag, 1986. ISBN 3-9080-8020-7. NA1088.M65B572 1986. discussion, p128.

A. James Speyer. Mies van der Rohe. Chicago: Hillison & Etten Company, 1968. NA 1088 M65 S6. discussion, p78.

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