Historic Architecture in the Caribbean Islands

Front Cover
University Press of Florida, 1994 - Architecture - 256 pages

"For those who are explorers and are curious to know more about the culture of the Caribbean, this book is a useful guide to the significant structures on each island."--Thomas S. Marvel, architect, Puerto Rico

"A comprehensive, panoramic vision of architecture in this important geographic region."--Efrain E. P rez-Chanis, architect and former dean, School of Architecture, University of Puerto Rico

In this abundantly illustrated book, Edward Crain records the rich architectural heritage of the sixteen Caribbean islands. Hundreds of black-and-white and color photographs, most taken by the author, show in detail structures with arresting visual appeal and lasting historic value.
Crain explores the physical, cultural, and political factors that influenced design evolution in the region, including climate, geography, the cultures of early occupants, colonial exploration, military control, immigration, and slavery. He observes that colonial influence dominated architectural development and concludes that designs from the mother countries (Spain, England, France, Denmark, and the Netherlands), while often elegant or delightful, were just as often inappropriate for the tropics.
The Schoelcher Museum in Guadeloupe, for example, embodies the values of French classicism; the Catholic church in Kingston, Jamaica, recalls the Byzantine revival sty≤ the Fox Delicias Theater in Ponce, Puerto Rico, is an example of Art Deco design. Urban design in the Spanish colonies reflects the dictates of the Law of the Indies, which mandated a grid pattern for all streets (even those through hilly terrain) and a central plaza in each town. With its gabled, red-tiled roofs, the capital of Curacao--named Willemstad for Dutch King Willem--is nicknamed "Amsterdam in Miniature."
"Architecture succeeded when nostalgia was replaced by logic, when a recognition of tropical demands was reflected in the buildings," Crain writes. When designers realized that the basic function of a Caribbean structure was to offer protection from rain and sun, they introduced such elements as verandas, porches, fretwork, and louvered shutters.
Following architectural development from the time of early Amerindian habitation of the islands up to World War II, Crain groups buildings by type: large and small residences, military facilities, public and institutional structures, and places of worship.

Edward E. Crain works as an architectural educator. When he retired as professor of architecture at the University of Florida, he served as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in Jamaica, where he helped set up the Caribbean School of Architecture. He is a member of the American Institute of Architects.

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Historic architecture in the Caribbean Islands

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Combining two popular subjects-architecture and the Caribbean-this book would seem to attract a healthy audience. But Crain's attempt at a panoramic study of a wildly diverse area is only partially ... Read full review

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