The Kavanagh Building (Edificio Kavanagh) of Buenos Aires, Argentina
The Kavanagh Building (Edificio Kavanagh) is located at 1065 Florida St. in the barrio of Retiro, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Rising 33 stories at the heart of the city on Plaza San Martin the magnificent Kavanagh Apartment is considered the apex of early Modernism in Argentina.
Architects Gregorio Sánchez, Ernesto Lagos and Luis María de la Torre, famed for the Empire State Building, began its construction in the 1934 and completed the project in 1936.
This building expresses the feeling of an era, and as many specialists agree, its features remind us that what has been often called a problematic view of modernism, meaning that what can be seen at first sight as esthetic conservatism, is actually updated, or better said, irrupted by pure and modern lines that give this incredible monument that undefinable Je ne sais quois.
In 1936, the architects expressed their feelings about the new creation in one of Buenos Aires’ most refined architectural magazines, noting that the shape of the building was determined by material and legislative limitations. As the explained the project, Sánchez, Lagos and de la Torre affirmed that the building was created from the outside in, adapting outstanding comfortable facilities to the space they had in order to create the masterpiece they were asked to design. This design is seen in many of the building’s features such as the passage that separates it from the Plaza Hotel, one of the most traditional buildings of the area; and the gradual surface reduction, a strategy these magnificent architects took in order to make the most of the city’s construction limitations. Their choices resulted in a great use of space allowing the owners of those exquisite apartments to enjoy amazing terrace gardens in the height and in the heart of the city. Aimed at upper middle class individuals, no initial cost regulations were set up in order to assure a high quality of result, with all 105 apartments containing the latest in technological advances, including being the first building ever built with central air conditioning. Apartments on the upper floors have exquisite terrace gardens with views of the river, parks and the city.
The Kavanagh was at the time it was built the largest reinforced concrete structure in the world, remaining the tallest building in all of South America for many years. The Kavanagh Building went on to be honored by the American Institute of Architects in 1939 and in 1999, was officially named as an Argentine National Historic Monument.
Nowadays, although surpassed by other constructions in height, the Kavanagh still is one of Buenos Aires’ most coveted apartment buildings. Located in the heart of the chic neighborhood of Retiro, in up town Buenos Aires, the exposé of the Latin American Art Decó dresses up the whole area. The Kavanagh offers its tenants one of the city’s best views combining a perfect approach to the coasts of the Rio de la Plata, the outstanding British styled Retiro train station, the amazing walkable Florida Street, and of course, an excellent “front yard” in the Plaza San Martín, the beautiful central park on a hill that runs all the way from Libertador Avenue up to Santa Fe Avenue.
The development and construction of the building was financed by one of Argentina’s wealthiest women, Corina Kavanagh, who invested all she had inherited, selling off additional property in order to fund this masterpiece. Corina Kavanagh lived for many years on the 14th floor in the largest apartment, and 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. One of the daughters of 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 Anchorena family, who lived in a palace on the other side of Plaza San Martín, had built a church next to the site of the Kavanagh Building. As Corina’s family was not old Argentine aristocracy, the Anchorena’s disapproved of the engagement. In revenge, Corina Kavanagh made only one demand of the architects she commissioned to design the landmark: that views of the Anchorenas’ Church of the Holy Sacrament from their palace be blocked.
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