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Great Houses of Havana Hardcover – November 8, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


"Its glossy pages pay tribute to the island nation’s glamorous mansions and elaborate interiors . . . The result of two years of research and multiple on-site explorations, Mallea’s work brings to light exquisite Beaux Arts palaces, modernist mansions, and even a spectacular beach house (now used as a restaurant)." —Architectural Digest

"Hermes Mallea’s Great Houses of Havana is one of several books on that city to appear this season, but it may be the most personal. . . . For Mallea, a Cuban-American architect who is based in New York, the book grew out of a longstanding fascination with his family’s history.What you will see is a selective survey of elegant Havana houses, from the traditional Spanish Colonial courtyard house of the 19th century to the Modernist-influenced houses of the 1950s." —The New York Times Style Magazine

"With photographs archival and new, the book documents the astonishing ways in which the prevailing styles of the day were adapted to the island's distintive climate and culture. Here, originality ruled." —Veranda

"Documents the evolution of Cuban design through a fantastic mix of contemporary and historical images." —New York Magazine

About the Author

Hermes Mallea is an architect and a partner in M(Group), a design firm based in New York. A longtime collector of vintage Cuban photographs and a member of a Cuban-American family, Mr. Mallea has traveled to Cuba frequently to do research and to lecture on historic preservation.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: The Monacelli Press (November 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580932886
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580932882
  • Product Dimensions: 10.3 x 1.2 x 12.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #107,623 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Hermes Mallea is an architect and a partner in the New York City based firm
M(Group). Mr. Mallea studied at the University of Miami's School of Architecture and Columbia University's graduate school of Historic Preservation and is a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

A longtime collector of vintage Cuban photographs, Mr. Mallea has travelled to Cuba frequently to do research for his current book and to lecture on historic preservation

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By I. Martinez-Ybor VINE VOICE on November 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover
By now there have been quite a few books about the architectural treasures that may be found in Cuba, particularly in Havana. Like exotic orchids miraculously sprouting in fields of wild, neglected, weeds, buildings have been selected for preservation either by deliberate public policy or vagaries of chance, such as choice for a foreign embassy or exigencies of Cuban diplomatic protocol. Why this one was restored and not that one, why this one after having succumbed to neglect for a significant while (e.g. careful viewing of the Pollack residence reveals that ornate murals that once graced walls have been reduced by half), remains somewhat of a mystery while revealing discerning taste. Apparently some of the larger Havana houses have become government offices or multiple family dwellings. For a poetic view of Havana in decay there is none better than Robert Polidori's photographic masterpiece: "Havana." In some areas, like "La Habana Vieja" (Old Havana) concerned Cuban authorities coupled with Unesco funds, preserved whole sections of prime colonial structures, not always of palaces, convents and fortresses, but of ordinary colonial residences which gives us glimpses in the 21st century of what life must have been like at various points during the 17th through 19th century when Havana was the main gateway to the Spanish empire in the Americas. In other cases, we are left with orchids in fields of weeds, charmed structures in the detritus of revolutionary squalor. Hermes Mallea's masterful work examines the orchids, and gives us some vague hints of life avant le deluge.Read more ›
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By PreserveNY on December 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover
As one who has never been to Cuba and envisioned it full of picturesquely decaying Spanish colonial structures, this book came as a complete surprise! Documenting about a century of the architectural evolution of residences in Havana, Mallea gives a complete scope of how architecture in Cuba was truly keeping pace with the design developments of the world at large, while at the same time developing a unique style that combines Caribbean, North American, Spanish, Italian and French influences. Also, it was refreshing - and quite heartening - to learn that much of this spectacular architecture is not crumbling, but has been successfully preserved as embassies, schools or even still as private residences. You can really tell that Mallea has a real passion for the history and architecture displayed in the book, personally researching, photographing and writing every bit of it. And it shows, especially in the combination of contemporary photographs and historic photographs of the families that populated these spaces, making the buildings' designs and personalities come to life. Sometimes architecture books can be very static, but by including the stories of the owners of these residences, Great Houses becomes distinctly vibrant. A few not-to-be-missed highlights: the Art Deco Casa de Catalina Lasa y Juan de Pedro Baró, the indoor swimming pool with latticework walls at the mansion of Pablo González de Mendoza, and Neutra's modernist home for the Swiss ambassador. This book is a must for anyone who is traveling to Cuba, interested in the evolution of architecture in this unique corner of the world, or just those that want a glimpse into stunningly beautiful houses (who doesn't!). Highly recommended!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Lilly Ford on December 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an ample title to a fantastic book. It depicts a group of really beautiful historic houses where the interiors and the architectural details are immaculate. The book is large and loaded with fully colored photos of the highest quality. Every house is given multiple shots of both the exteriors and the interiors as well as some close-up shots revealing the fine architectural details. The text accompanying the photos is brief but informative and easy to follow and it gives just the right amount of information regarding the history of both the property and its owners. Highly recommended for all lovers of fine architecture.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By R.A. Fernandez on December 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover
this publication sets its own mark by its insightful and labor intensive research.
The information reflected on each house with its own chapter delivers the reader right
into their entry hall. Each property is conceptually situated within the historical context of its taste-making owners and makers. The archival photography sprinkled throughout also helps the reader get a taste for the period and customs of Havana.
'Great Houses of Havana' is at the top of the subject matter. It sits apart from many of the puff publications on the subject with its predictable dose of 'Rum and Rumba' copy and over directed, hyper-glossed photography.

This publication is essential for any serious enthusiast of Cuban History. A must have for Architects, Interior Designers and the general reader. It will make a fine gift as well.

Ramiro Fernandez
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Sergio A. Larach on December 16, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have bought several books related to architecture in Cuba, wich I have enjyed very much, but this one went beyond my expectations! never seen before, beautifully taken pictures describing houses then and now. a must have book for historical architecture lovers!
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