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Javier Carvajal

A Spanish Master (1926-2013)


Breathing his last on 13 June in Madrid, Javier Carvajal Ferrer was born in Barcelona on the same year, 1926, that Antoni Gaudí breathed his. Carvajal studied architecture during the dull early years of Franco’s rule, and already then forged his firm commitment to modernity, as expressed in his first major work: the Higher School of Mercantile Studies in Barcelona (1955). Precocious and gifted with an extraordinary talent for form, Carvajal later built the pavilion for the World’s Fair of New York (1963), a project where he developed his characteristic language – based on spatial continuity, a synthesis of modern and Mediterranean, and a Brutalist use of materials –, and for which he earned international recognition, unprecedented for someone from the isolated Spain of those times.

Javier Carvajal’s professional heyday – the 1960s and 1970s, decades that saw him carry out magnificent houses, some excellent office buildings and controversial works like the Tower of Valencia – coincided with a dedication to teaching in Madrid – at whose school he was a chair professor –, in Barcelona and in Las Palmas, as well as with a maintenance of conservative postures even as Francoism weakened. His support of the regime resulted in his being ostracized in the democracy that followed, although he continued to build some works of note, such as the hotel for Expo’92 or the library for the University of Navarre, an institution he was linked to in the final years of his career.

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