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[graphic text] Edificios En San Juan
[photo] Patio Espanol
Photo courtesy of Cortesia de la Oficina Estatal de Conservación Histórica de Puerto Rico

An outstanding Spanish Renaissance Revival style mixed use building in San Juan, Patio Espanol was constructed in 1939 by Eduardo Fossas Lopez , reconfiguring and substantially altering a 19th-century house known as simply as House 21. The changes consisted of partial demolition of the old house and the construction of two floors above that left standing, the construction of a new facade with two flanking upper level towers, the Puerto Rican Coat of Arms in the center and iron balconies and concrete balustrades, and the division of the interior patio space into five separate spaces servicing different portions of the building. Once completed the building had been transformed into 22 apartments, two commercial spaces on the ground floor and five portions of el patio, while displaying an eclectic combination of classic details, neocolonial lines and Spanish style ornamentation. Patio Espanol is also known as La Filarmonica for its historical ties to a local cultural institution, Sociedad la Filarmonica , founded in 1846 by two distinguished 19th-century scholars. In its well preserved condition, the building reflects the social and architectural history of San Juan and one recent publication praises it as “the best example of a multiple tenant dwelling constructed in Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic in the period between 1890 and 1930.”

[photo] Edificio Del Valle (Del Valle Building)
Photo courtesy of Cortesia de la Oficina Estatal de Conservación Histórica de Puerto Rico

Completed in 1941, the Edificio Del Valle (Del Valle Building) is a five-story, reinforced concrete Spanish Revival style mixed use building with 16 apartment units and four commercial spaces on the ground floor. The three incorporated interior patios facilitate each unit’s access to natural light and ventilation. Located in San Juan’s Santurce neighborhood, it is the work of renowned Puerto Rican architect Refael Carmoega Morales. Rendered in reinforced concrete covered by cement plaster with cast concrete details, the building retains much of its original character. Concrete high reliefs, iron gates, cornices, capitals and moldings embellish the building’s noble Spanish Revival facade. The importance of this style to Puerto Rican architecture and culture has been characterized by noted architectural historians Farage and Curbelo: “The Spanish Revival in certain ways is a proposal of Puerto Rican identity, a metaphor of nation, in which the Hispanic element was very significant though in permanent negotiation with modern paradigms.” It was a means for a dialectical conversation between the Hispanic roots and the new political and cultural forces on the island since 1898. The flexibility of the style enabled its use to “beautifully dress up” different types of buildings, including many individual and multiple-unit residences, of which the Del Valle Building is one of the most elegant.

[photo] Edificio Aboy (Aboy Building)
Photo courtesy of Cortesia de la Oficina Estatal de Conservación Histórica de Puerto Rico

The Edificio Aboy (Aboy Building) is an outstanding three-story, concrete Art Deco residential building located in the 20th-century Miramar neighborhood in San Juan. Constructed in1937, Edificio Aboy was designed by noted local architect Jorge Julia Passarell, known for his eclectic interpretations of modern architectural styles within the local context. Because of its singularity of design, this project came to be one of Passarell’s most important commissions. Of the extant examples of significant Art Deco style architecture in San Juan, the Aboy Building stands out for its dynamic composition in terms of its bold volumes, its intricate juxtaposition of formal elements, its use of literal nautical motifs and its distinctive detail designs combining wood and metal in gratings, railings, windows, doors, moldings. Vacant for many years, the building has now been rehabilitated.

[photo] Edificio Victory Garden (Victory Garden Building)
Photo courtesy of Cortesia de la Oficina Estatal de Conservación Histórica de Puerto Rico

Also located in San Juan’s Miramar neighborhood, the Edificio Victory Garden (Victory Garden Building) is another exemplary example of a four-story, reinforced concrete multi-unit mixed use building sophisticatedly rendered in the Spanish Revival style. The building is U-shaped in plan with the interior patio providing natural light and ventilation to each of the six apartments above the two ground floor commercial spaces. Constructed in 1936 and designed by Pedro Adolfo de Castro, the first Puerto Rican architect graduated from American universities who returned to Puerto Rico(in 1918), the building is a particularly masterful example of the style, of which de Castro is considered the island’s finest exponent. With its exquisite handling of architectural composition in massing and elevation, the design excels for its quality in the use and variety of eclectic decorative details and ornament pertinent to the Spanish Revival style combined with its functional, efficient program as a modern apartment house.

These multiple tenant apartment houses with integrated ground floor commercial spaces and patios are a fine collection of this significant building type popular with developers, investors and tenants during the building boom of the 1930s and 40s. By making most efficient use of land, providing healthy living environments and displaying masterful architectural designs, these apartment buildings reflect the significant redevelopment of the dense urban fabric of many of San Juan’s neighborhoods during the period.

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