Determined Demolition

View from 27th Street

I read in the press that the former Pedro Borrás Astorga Hospital, located between 29th and 27th Streets and F and G in the capital’s Vedado district, one of the two most important examples of Art Deco hospital architecture (the other is in the city of Chicago), will be completely demolished in the first half of 2013.

Although for years responsible citizens have been denouncing its progressive deterioration, in reality the hospital has been rundown for more than twenty years, what’s left now are the ruins, where needy people collect construction materials at the risk of their own lives, and it now seems unsalvageable.

The questions one asks are: To what is the deterioration of such a magnificent building due, and what were the causes? Couldn’t arriving at this point have been avoided in time, with maintenance and repairs? Can the country afford the luxury of losing, due to laziness, facilities of this kind? Why, for two decades, have they been talking about what to do with the installation and they never did anything to save it? who is responsible for this?’

Clearly there will be no answers, as there never are when, from one day to the next for reasons that convince no one (“it has construction defects”) they decided to demolish the well-known Alaska building at the corner of M and 23rd Streets, also in Vedado.

It is said that the same fate awaits the Lopez Serrano building, another example of Art Deco, on the L and Linea Streets, because of its state of deterioration, with areas closed because the roof collapsed, something also could happen to the America Arias Hospital on G Street between Linea and 9th Street. As expected, these aren’t the only cases.

This allowing important buildings to progressively deteriorate and become irreparably loss without any type of constructive action to prevent their destruction, has become a habit with the capital city’s authorities, and the worst is that these change every so often, without anyone answering for it, with no one being prosecuted or punished.

To act this way demonstrates, among other things, complete lack of culture and respect for the city and its values, which should be the principal currency of those who should and who say they serve it, from the posts they occupy.

As long as they don’t take serious measures to reverse this anomalous situation, that has already gone on for too many years, the city will continue falling down around us.

February 19 2013

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