Ricardo Porro graduated in architecture from the Universidad de la Habana in 1949. By 1957 his work took on distinctive organic tendencies. He published a polemical article “El sentido de la tradición” that called for a Cuban architecture that recognized the specificities of culture and history. Shortly thereafter, Porro’s support for the Revolution caught up with him, and he was forced into exile when his subversive activities were discovered. He fled to Venezuela where he taught architecture and worked in the Banco Obrero led by architect Carlos Raúl Villanueva. There he later met two Italian expatriate architects Roberto Gottardi and Vittorio Garatti. With the triumph of the Revolution he returned to Cuba and was later given the “command” of the project for the art schools by Fidel Castro. He invited Gottardi and Garatti to join him in the project for which he designed the School of Modern Dance and the School of Plastic Arts. Today he lives in Paris, practices architecture, and creates art.

Roberto Gottardi graduated in architecture from the Instituto Superiore di Architettura di Venezia in 1952, the same class as Massimo Vignelli. There one of the major influences on his formation was his mentor Carlo Scarpa whose craft approach to architecture refuted the tenets of Rationalist modernism. Also influential was the school’s iconoclastic director, Giuseppe Samoná, who like Scarpa, was an important critic of Rationalism. After his studies in Venice, Gottardi worked in Milan for Ernesto Rogers. In 1957 he departed for Caracas upon the invitation of a Venezuelan architect whom he had met in Rogers’ office and ended up working in the Banco Obrero. After the triumph of the Revolution, Ricardo Porro invited Gottardi to join him in the cause of building a new country. As part of the three man team who designed the National Art Schools, Gottardi created the School of Dramatic Arts. Today he lives and practices architecture in Havana.

Vittorio Garatti graduated in architecture in 1957 from the Politécnico di Milano, where Ernesto Rogers was a major influence. Guido Canella and Gae Aulenti were his classmates. In that same year he departed for Venezuela where he later, like Porro and Gottardi, found employment in the Banco Obrero and began teaching at the university. Garatti, like Gottardi, had been a young participant in the post–war debate in Italy against Rationalism, a critique that was lead by such figures as Ernesto Rogers, Carlo Scarpa, Mario Ridolfi, Giuseppe Samoná and Bruno Zevi. After the triumph of the Revolution, Ricardo Porro invited Garatti to join him in Havana. As part of the three–man team who designed the National Art Schools, Garatti designed the School of Music and the School of Ballet. Today he lives and practices architecture in Milan.

“It was the moment, common to every revolution, during which the marvelous becomes the everyday and the revolution appeared—mas surrealista que socialista.
Ricardo Porro

“I remember the first years of the Revolution with much nostalgia. The spirit in which one worked was very beautiful. We had much freedom. There was an atmosphere in which one thought, one reflected. I have never since had an opportunity to engage in a project of this type. To found a new country, with a new people, was a great undertaking.”
Roberto Gottardi

“The Revolution was the start to my creative process. I wanted the school to be dynamic, in part as a response to the dynamism of dance, but I also wanted it to be dynamic because it was a vision of our future and an expression of freedom, open in all directions.”
Vittorio Garatti