Kavanagh building

The Kavanagh Building (Edificio Kavanagh) is an Art Deco skyscraper in Buenos Aires, located at 1065 Florida St. in the barrio of Retiro, overlooking Plaza San Martín. It was designed in 1934 by local architects Gregorio Sánchez, Ernesto Lagos and Luis María de la Torre, and was inaugurated in 1936. The building is characterised by the austerity of its lines, the lack of external ornamentation and its large prismatic volumes. It was declared a National Historic Monument in 1999, and is one of the most impressive architectural masterpieces of Buenos Aires. Standing at a height of 120 m, it still retains its impact against the modern skyline of the city. In 1939 its facade received an award from the American Institute of Architects.

It was commissioned in 1934 by Corina Kavanagh, who invested all she had inherited in building her own skyscraper. The Kavanagh building has a towering form, with symmetrical setbacks and gradual surface reductions. It was created from the outside in, adapting outstandingly comfortable facilities to the space available. The structure was carefully designed to be as slender as possible, in order to avoid unnecessary weight, and the design was also influenced by the city planning regulations. The design is an hybrid of a Modernism and Art Deco style American skyscraper, with a Rationalist approach, and is considered to be the apex of early Modernism in Argentina.

It was at the time the highest reinforced concrete structure in the world, and the tallest building in South America for many years. As the apartments in the new building were aimed at the upper middle classes, no expense was spared in its construction, in order to insure a result of the highest quality. All 105 apartments contained the latest in technological advances, including central air conditioning, twelve Otis elevators, and state-of-the-art plumbing. Those on the upper floors have exquisite terrace gardens with views of the river, parks and the city.

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 (today known as San Martín Palace), and had built a church next to the site of the Kavanagh Building, 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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