UNFINISHED SPACES: Round Table Discussion and Film Screening

Friday, October 12, 2012, 6:30 - 9:30pm

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Unfinished Spaces, 2011, production still Unfinished Spaces, 2011, production still Unfinished Spaces, 2011, production still Unfinished Spaces, 2011, production still
Unfinished Spaces, 2011, production still

The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture and The American Institute of Architects New York Chapter will present Unfinished Spaces, an award-winning new documentary by Alysa Nahmias and Benjamin Murray, at The Cooper Union’s Great Hall, Friday 12 October.

A round-table discussion including Diana Agrest, Patricio del Real, Unfinished Spaces co-creators Benjamin Murray and Alysa Nahmias, and moderated by Pablo Lorenzo-Eiroa will explore the impact of architecture on revolution and the role of revolution in shaping architectural expression.

“Cuba will count as having the most beautiful academy of arts in the world.”
—Fidel Castro (1961)


Cuba's ambitious National Art Schools project, designed by three young artists in the wake of Castro's Revolution, is neglected, nearly forgotten, then ultimately rediscovered as a visionary architectural masterpiece.

 Unfinished Spaces features intimate footage of Fidel Castro, showing his devotion to creating a worldwide showcase for art, and it also documents the struggle and passion of three revolutionary artists.

In 1961, three young, visionary architects were commissioned by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara to create Cuba's National Art Schools on the grounds of a former golf course in Havana, Cuba. Construction of their radical designs began immediately and the school's first classes soon followed. Dancers, musicians and artists from all over the country reveled in the beauty of the schools, but as the dream of the Revolution quickly became a reality, construction was abruptly halted and the architects and their designs were deemed irrelevant in the prevailing political climate. Forty years later the schools are in use, but remain unfinished and decaying. Castro has invited the exiled architects back to finish their unrealized dream.

Directed by Alysa Nahmias and Benjamin Murray, 
2011 / HD / Color / 16:9 (1.78:1) / 86 min / Stereo

View the trailer

The event is part of Archtober, the second annual month-long festival of architecture activities, programs and exhibitions in New York City. It is free and open to the public.

Located in The Great Hall, in the Foundation Building, 7 East 7th Street, between Third and Fourth Avenues

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.