The Bacardi Building is one of Havana’s principal landmarks, standing on the western edge of the city’s historical centre. Its architect, Esteban Rodríguez Castells, originally won the international competition for its construction with a neo-Renaissance proposal, but after visiting the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris he completely reworked his design as an extravaganza of Art Deco style.
The building, which is twelve stories high and has more than a passing resemblance to a Babylonian ziggurat, was completed in 1930 by an international team headed by Esteban Rodríguez with his project associates architect Rafael Fernández and engineer José Menéndez.
The façade of the Edificio Bacardí is lavishly decorated with red Bavarian granite inlaid with brass embellishments which include a stylized Art Deco version of Havana’s coat of arms. The upper part of the building is faced with glazed terracotta reliefs of geometric patterns, flowers and female nudes by Maxfield Parrish. Its sumptuous interior details include blue mirrors; stucco reliefs; brushed and polished brass; mural paintings; mahogany and cedar panelling; stained and acid-etched glass; gold leaf and rose-coloured, pale green and black inlaid marble from Germany, Sweden, Norway, Italy, France, Belgium and Hungary. The lamps and other fittings throughout the building are superb examples of the Art Deco style and the atmospheric mezzanine bar has retained all its original furniture and decorative details. The building’s central tower is crowned by a three dimensional figure of the Bacardi bat, which appears throughout the building along with sunburst, fan, wave, spiral and geometric patterns and Art Deco imagery of roses, pineapples and other tropical fruit.
The restoration of the Edificio Bacardí was completed in 2003 by the Office of the City Historian of Havana.