Reassessing Modernism in the Americas

Kleinman Forum, Fisher Fine Arts Library, 4th Floor

220 S 34th St
Philadelphia, PA
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This is one of four parallel sessions taking place from 9:50 AM - 11:05 AM on Thursday June 2.

Speakers have been asked to pre-record their presentations and we will be releasing these videos to registrants after the Symposium so that you can watch sessions you weren't able to attend.

Icons Under Pressure 

Speakers will explore the qualities that characterize modern architecture in Cuba, as well as the translation of that particular brand of Modernism to other parts of the world, through work of such Cuban emigrés as Eugenio Batista, Max Borges, and Rosa Navia, as well as through the pedagogy of Mario Romañach at the University of Pennsylvania. 

Speakers & Paper titles:

  • North-South Collisions: Modernity and Cubanidad
    Jean-Francois Lejuene
  • The Modern Cuban House Abroad
    Victor Deupi
  • Mario Romanach in Havana and Philadelphia
    Monty Freeman


Maria C. Romanach

Maria C. Romanach was born in Havana, Cuba and came to the United States in 1959.  She received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Architecture degree from Princeton University. She began her professional career working with The Kling Partnership and in 1975 joined with her father Mario J. Romanach to establish the Romanach Partnership. This collaboration produced projects in the United States and abroad. Upon Mr. Romanach’s death in 1984 the firm became known as Maria C. Romanach Architects. The over the years the firm gravitated to doing primarily museum and exhibition projects. Concurrent to her professional practice she has pursued a commitment to architectural education. As Associate Professor at Cornell University she headed the second-year design studio, taught the history and theory of architecture course, and advised undergraduate and graduate thesis students. She has been on the faculties of the School of Design at North Carolina State University, the School of Architecture at the Simon Bolivar University in Venezuela and at the Ecole Special d’Architecture in Paris. Most recently she was the Fox Professor of Architecture at the University of Southern California. Her honors and awards include the Lucy G. Moses Preservation Award of the New York Landmarks Conservancy for the restauration of The Hispanic Society of America, and a nomination to the National Academy of Design. Her work has been exhibited at Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the Herbert G. Johnson Museum of Art, and the Architectural Archives of the University of Pennsylvania.


Jean-François Lejeune

Jean-François Lejeune, Ph.D. is a professor of architecture, urban design, and history at the University of Miami School of Architecture. His research ranges from Latin American architecture and urbanism to 20th-century vernacular modernism in Spain and Italy. His publications include The Making of Miami Beach 1933-1942: The Architecture of Lawrence Murray Dixon, with Allan Shulman (Rizzoli, 2001), Cruelty and Utopia: Cities and Landscapes of Latin America (Princeton Architectural Press, 2005), Sitte, Hegemann, and the Metropolis (Routledge, 2009), Modern Architecture and the Mediterranean: Vernacular Dialogues and Contested Identities, with Michelangelo Sabatino (Routledge, 2010), Cuban Modernism: Mid- Century Architecture 1940-1970, with Victor Deupi (Birkhäuser, 2021) and Rural Architecture and Water Urbanism: The Modern Village in Franco’s Spain (DOM-Publishers, 2021). He curated various exhibitions in Brussels and Miami, including with Victor Deupi, Cuban Architects at Home and in Exile: The Modernist Generation. He holds a diploma from the University of Liège in Belgium and the Ph.D. from the TU Delft. He was founder of Docomomo US/Florida and is the current treasurer. He was an Affiliated Fellow at the American Academy in Rome in 2007.

Victor Deupi

Victor Deupi is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Miami School of Architecture where he teaches history and theory, design, and representation. He received a Bachelor of Science in architecture from the University of Virginia, a Master of Architecture from Yale University, and a Ph.D. in architecture from the University of Pennsylvania. He has taught previously at Fairfield University, the New York Institute of Technology, the University of Notre Dame, the Prince of Wales’s Institute of Architecture in London, and has been a “Visiting Critic” at the College of Architecture at Georgia Tech. 

Belmont Freeman, FAIA

Belmont Freeman, FAIA, familiarly known as Monty, is founding principal of Belmont Freeman Architects, an award-winning design firm in New York City with built work for a wide variety of public, institutional and private clients in North America, Europe, and Asia. Since establishing his practice in 1986, Monty has earned a wide reputation as an innovative designer, a progressive practitioner, and a scholar. A prolific author, his writings have appeared in Places journal, Architectural Record, The Architect’s Newspaper, and other publications. He holds a B.A. from Yale and an M.Arch degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Mr. Freeman has taught at Columbia University and is currently a visiting lecturer at Penn’s Weitzman School of Design. From 1997 to 2008 Monty was the President of Storefront for Art & Architecture, on which board he still sits. He has served on the Board of Governors of the Association of Yale Alumni and the Board of Directors of the Society of Architectural Historians. An American of Cuban descent, Monty has done extensive research, writing, and lecturing about Cuban architecture and culture, as well as leading numerous architectural tours of Cuba. He maintains a home in Havana as a base for professional and family activities.