Florida: Hilario Candela, creator of Miami Marine Stadium, dies

The architect Cuban-American Hilario Candela, known for designing the emblematic Miami Marine Stadium in Florida, died on Tuesday at the age of 87 in a hospital in this city due to complications from COVID-19, the family reported to a local media outlet on Thursday.

Candela, architect of this marine stadium built in 1963 and currently designated an architectural masterpiece by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, died at Mercy Hospital, where he was admitted after contracting the coronavirus, his son, Mauricio Candela, told the Miami Herald newspaper. .

His son, also an architect, told the newspaper that his father was recovering from back surgery “and was doing well at home and in outpatient rehabilitation when he tested positive for coronavirus” and had to be admitted.

“It was absolutely one hundred percent clear that he still had that zest for life that he always had,” Candela said of his father, recalling that he had “a passion for life and design that went beyond architecture.”

Candela died without seeing her great dream come true: to recover and return Miami Marine Stadium to the former splendor of the 1960s, when outboard races and concerts and shows were all the rage.

In 2016 Hilario Candela walks among the graffiti-laden structures of the emblematic Miami Marine Stadium. Photo: Gastón De Cárdenas/Efe.

This marine amphitheater with a cantilevered roof that rises in Virginia Key, in Miami Bay, on the shores of a beautiful one-kilometer-long marine sleeve, has been in a very poor state of conservation since it was closed in 1992. , eaten by graffiti and abandonment.

“I am extremely saddened to learn of the passing of the great Hilario Candela. Hilario designed one of the most iconic and influential architectural structures in Miami: the Miami Marine Stadium,” Miami Commissioner Raquel Regalado said today on social media.

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Regalado defended the importance of “restoring the Miami Marine Stadium to preserve the legacy” of Candela, who designed this stadium with a modernist look when he was only 28 years old, in addition to the first two campuses of Miami Dade College (MDC).


Like Regalado, a handful of cultural organizations have been fighting for years to save this historic 326-foot-long (nearly 100-meter) reinforced concrete construction, the longest cantilever in the world when it was built and with a capacity for 6,566 people, which it was about to succumb to the demolition cranes.

Candela studied architecture at Georgia Tech University in Atlanta (USA), and returned to Cuba to start her professional career. However, the Cuban revolution of 1959 upset his plans and forced him into exile when the new regime began to seize private companies, Candela said, according to the newspaper.

In Miami, Candela joined the firm of Pancoast, Ferendino, Skeels & Burnham, founded in 1926 by pioneering Miami Beach architect Russell T. Pancoast, in 1961.

Years later, Candela and another partner purchased Pancoast’s stock, and under his direction, the firm designed numerous significant buildings in Miami-Dade County, especially in the 1970s and 1980s.

Rosa Lowinger, president of the RLA Conservation of Art + Architecture company and an expert in the preservation of the stadium, today told Eph that “Hilario was not only an amazing architect and colleague, he was a person of great warmth and love who spread joy to his students and friends, and lit up every time he was at his beloved Marine Stadium.”

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“Working with him was a privilege and a joy,” he added.

In an interview with Eph Last August, Lowinger assured that the recovery of the Miami Marine Stadium “would not only be a benefit for the entire town, but also a way to enjoy the Bay of Miami not only for yacht owners.”

The everyday beauty of Havana architecture

“The stadium is simply the most representative building of what was the development of the city of Miami (…) and it was built with all the splendor of Cuban architecture of the 50s,” Lowinger stressed.

For this expert of Cuban origin, “destroying it, not restoring it,” would imply total indifference to this “monument that represents what the Cuban community did for this city,” and, furthermore, at a time when Miami is transforming from a small city in “international capital of sport” in the hemisphere.

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