Kavanagh building Argentina, Buenos Aires

Kavanagh building

The Kavanagh Building is an Art Deco skyscraper in Buenos Aires, located at 1065 Florida Street in the barrio of Retiro, overlooking Plaza San Martín. It was designed in 1934, by local architects Gregorio Sánchez, Ernesto Lagos and Luis María de la Torre, built by the constructor and engineer Rodolfo Cervini, and inaugurated in 1936. Standing at a height of 120 meters, the building is characterised by the austerity of its lines, the lack of external ornamentation, and its large prismatic volumes. It was declared a Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers in 1994 and a National Historic Monument by the Argentine government in 1999. In the year of its completion the building obtained the Municipal Award for Collective Houses and Facades and three years later its facade received a similar award from the American Institute of Architects.

Its construction took only 14 months and was commissioned in 1934 by Corina Kavanagh, a millionaire of Irish descent who sold two ranches at the age of 39 to erect her own skyscraper. The building has a towering form, with symmetrical setbacks and gradual surface reductions. It was created from the outside in, adapting outstandingly comfortable facilities to the space available. The structure was carefully designed to be as slender as possible, in order to avoid unnecessary weight, and influenced by the city planning regulations. The design combines Modernism and Art Deco with a Rationalist approach and is considered the apex of early Modernism in Argentina.

It was at the time the highest skyscraper in Latin America. As the apartments in the new building were aimed at the upper middle classes, no expense was spared in its construction in order to insure a result of the highest quality. All 105 apartments contained the latest in technological advances, including central air conditioning, twelve Otis elevators, and state-of-the-art plumbing. Those on the upper floors have exquisite terrace gardens with views of the river, parks and the city.

Corina Kavanagh lived for many years on the 14th floor in the largest apartment, the only one that occupies an entire floor. There is a legend that says that the shape of the building was designed as a revenge. Corina, who was from a wealthy but not an aristocrat family, fell in love with the son of the Anchorena family, who were both wealthy and aristocratic. The Anchorenas, who lived in a palace on the other side of Plaza San Martín (today known as the San Martín Palace) and had built a church next to the skyscraper, disapproved of the engagement. In revenge, Corina made only one demand to the architects: that the Anchorena family could not view the church they had constructed from their own palace.

The building is separated from the Plaza Hotel by the passage Corina Kavanagh.

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