HAVANA, Jan. 20th. Eusebio Leal Spengler, city historian of Havana,has been named the recipient of the 2016 Richard H. Driehaus Prize at the University of Notre Dame.He will receive the $50,000 Henry Hope Reed Award, given annually to an individual working outside the practice of architecture who has supported the cultivation of the traditional city, its architecture and art.
The Richard H. Driehaus Prize at the University of Notre Dame was established in 2003 to honor lifetime contributions to traditional, classical and sustainable architecture and urbanism in the modern world. The prize is awarded annually to a living architect whose work has had positive cultural, environmental and artistic impact in keeping with the highest ideals of classical architecture in contemporary society.
The award ceremony on March 19 will also honor the Henry Hope Reed Award laureate, Eusebio Leal Spengler, whose innovative leadership saved the historic center of Old Havana. Leal transformed the Office of the Historian from a conventional cultural agency to a financially autonomous model of management that not only generates the funds needed to undertake complex restoration projects but also provides support for the local community.
“I applaud the selection of Dr. Leal as the recipient of the 2016 Henry Hope Reed Award,” said Driehaus. “His tireless and strategic efforts to protect the cultural heritage of the Cuban people are an inspiration to all of us with a passion for historic preservation. His work has ensured that Havana will be a source of inspiration for all of us in perpetuity.”
Leal is the Havana City Historian as well as the director of the restoration program of Old Havana and its historic center, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Additionally, he serves as deputy to the National Assembly in Cuba, as president of the Commission of Monuments in the City of Havana and as a United Nations goodwill ambassador. Leal is a specialist in archaeological sciences and received a master’s degree in Latin American, Caribbean and Cuban studies from the University of Havana as well as a doctorate in historical sciences.
“Eusebio Leal’s work in Havana has not only helped save what is one of the most stunningly beautiful cities in the world, and in particular the western hemisphere, but also by example, it has highlighted the importance of an architectural and urban culture that maintains a spirit of conservation and investment as opposed to consumption and waste,” said Lykoudis.