The architect of New York. Rafael Guastavino

“The architects of America have with him [Rafael Guastavino i Moreno] a debt of gratitude not only for having been a trustworthy and conscientious builder but for new possibilities have made possible in the field of the architectural design.”

Peter B. Wight, 1901

Peter B. Wight was recognizing in Rafael Guastavino’s life i Brown the great contribution of this Valencian architect to the architectural design in The United States. From his beginnings in Barcelona there was employed at the renovation of the architecture, being qualified by the same Doménech i Montaner as artist of exceptional endowments, author of a revolutionary and advanced architecture of a great artistic movement. Born in Valencia in 1842, Rafael Guastavino i Moreno moves to Barcelona in 1861 to begin his studies in the Master builders’ School. His professional early vision stimulates him already in 1866 to begin his professional path as builder and architect before enclosedly of having finished his studies.

His arrival to The United States with his son Rafael Guastavino i Foundling in 1881, the foundation of his own Construction Company in 1888, the modernization of the traditional blocked system, the manufacture of ceramic products from 1900 and his managerial project they end in the reinvention of a new type of public spaces for the American modern metropolis, a few spaces that are excavated in the architecture and award an urban dimension to his interiors. From his participation in the big works of the moment, collaborating with the architects of more recognized prestige of the American context, his ceramic domed forms qualify – from the geometry, the tectonic one, the scale and the technology – the architecture of the new American metropolis that as the first time has the will to last, of turning in the long term into his historical city.

The Company constructs until the day of his closing in 1962 more than 1000 buildings that center in the main in The United States, though he constructed in other countries as Canada, India or Cuba. Universities like Harvard, MIT, Berkeley, Yale or Columbia between many others count each other between them. Museums like the Museum Metropolitanto of New York or the National Museum of Washington, and institutions like the Federal Reservation and even the National Files that the Declaration of the Independence shelters count each other between the works of the Company and confirm the transcendency of these spaces in the construction of the architectural identity of The United States.

Visionary, innovator, architect, artist, engineer, builder … the terminology has not managed to define the work of the founder of The R. Guastavino Company. The present exhibition promoted by the Consortium of Museums, Conselleria of Culture of the Valencian Autonomous government of Catalonia commemorates the Centenary of Rafael Guastavino’s death i Brown: when it expires in February, 1908, The New York Times grants the architect’s title of New York to him. Departing from his Valencian origin, crossing his professional Catalan path and presenting his managerial project in The United States, the exhibition offers a tour for the construction of the city of New York from ends of the XIXth up to the Age of the Depression, taking as a conductive thread the work of the Company Guastavino. His contribution has stayed awake like paradigmatic in the definition of the beautiful textures and folds of this fascinating city, under which there develops the collective American life.

— Mar Loren, curator of the Exhibition

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