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buenos aires: inside the kavanagh

Don’t be jealous… although you should be.

The Kavanagh is a Holy Grail to architecture buffs worldwide, & I scored a visit inside today. The building administration was adamant about not taking photos in public areas. Did I listen? We were chastised several times, & I wouldn’t want the person who granted us access to get into trouble. She lives there after all. But how could I resist?

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argentina: no soy muy tanguero

Tita Merello

I’m not an enormous fan of tango, but there are quite a few songs that I’ve grown to love. And before you ask, no… I’ve never taken a dance lesson. Far from being clumsy on my feet —I grew up in Memphis, after all— it’s one of those cultural experiences I keep saying I’ll do one day.

That day has yet to arrive, but I thought of something yesterday when Jeff & I were discussing the difficulties of translation. He’s done a very nice month-long series of posts about Borges since June 2006 was the 20th anniversary of his death. We had trouble agreeing on how to translate one simple line of poetry, so I decided to take the ultimate challenge… translating a tango song. I think I’m asking for trouble.

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buenos aires: estanislao pirovano, last word

First of all, one building that didn’t fit any of the other categories:

Güemes 3950 (Palermo) I hadn’t been disappointed in my Estanislao Pirovano quest. But after seeing this former apartment building, I wonder what Pirovano was thinking when he designed this. There’s nothing wrong with it… just very blah compared to all his other buildings. Maybe he was merely fulfilling a client’s request. No Tudor, no Neocolonial, no dragons, nada. The most decorative part of the façade is the pediment with lots of frilly bits & curves to look at through the trees.

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buenos aires: estanislao pirovano, neoprehispanic

Buenos Aires, San Nicolás, Estanislao Pirovano, La Nación/Falabella, Neoprehispanic

As part of an architectural & cultural movement from 1860 to 1900, nations once controlled by Spain began examining & re-evaluating their past. Dubbed Neoprehispánica, Neocolonial forms merged with indigenous influence in an attempt to create a unique, local style… very popular in México. Some authors refer to this style as Arequipeño based on architecture originating in Arequipa, Perú. Call it what you like, it’s gorgeous.

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buenos aires: estanislao pirovano, neocolonial

Buenos Aires, Flores, Estanislao Pirovano, Neocolonial

Coexisting with Art Deco & English Revival styles in the 1920’s was an idealized notion of Spanish architecture during colonial times. Certainly influenced by the 1929 Ibero-American Exposition, this style of architecture never existed in Buenos Aires prior to the 20th century. Ochre & white colors echo those of Sevilla, & delicate designs in columns & panels are inspired by a late Gothic-early Renaissance Spanish style known as plateresco. Derived from the Spanish word for silver (plata), the decoration mimics silver filigree work. Add to all of this a new interest in Spanish Mission architecture from California & you have the beginning of Latin American movement in architecture. Estanislao Pirovano joined the club.

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buenos aires: estanislao pirovano, neotudor

Buenos Aires, Retiro, Estanislao Pirovano, Biblioteca Ricardo Güiraldes

Estanislao Pirovano’s most prolific style, Neotudor or Tudor Revival found fans around the world. I even found lots of it in Bogotá. Popular roughly during the same time as Art Deco, architects replicated simple, English country homes & often added local influences to make an eclectic mix. Pirovano excelled at combining four-centered arches, wooden doors, bay windows, fanciful columns, faux coats-of-arms & mythical/real beasts… very unique in Buenos Aires & something upper-class porteños wanted.

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buenos aires: estanislao pirovano, biography

Buenos Aires, Recoleta, Estanislao Pirovano, Escuela Argentina Modelo

As a major metropolitan area with such a rich & undeniably unique architectural heritage, much remains to be discovered in Buenos Aires. The city hides plenty of secrets. Less-transited areas often have beautiful buildings designed by formerly popular architects… who have now fallen into oblivion. Plans disappear, some works are demolished, and no one even records when they were born or when they died.

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