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The Seaside Institute Visits Antigua, Guatemala

Posted on Jan 01, 2015 in Academic Village , Guatemala , Seaside Institute , January-February 2015

The Seaside Institute tour group gathers at the Central Plaza in Antigua. Photo by Brian DiSabitano

With assistance from architects Joe Kohl, Russell Versaci, Maria Fernandez and Pedro Godoy and local historian Elizabeth Bell, the Seaside Institute organized a trip to Guatemala this past November for a group of 33 people. The Institute plans at least one international tour per year and has visited architecturally rich cities, such as Pienza, Rome and Florence, Italy; Barcelona, Spain; Paris, France; and Havana, Cuba. This is the first time the Institute has ventured to Central America.

The bulk of the six-day tour, which focused on Guatemalan architecture and culture, took place in Antigua, a city in the central highlands of Guatemala famous for its well-preserved Spanish Baroque-influenced architecture, its spectacular courtyard buildings, and a large number of colonial church ruins. I participated in the tour. We had the opportunity to visit a new home in Antigua built by Kohl after he discovered the city while working on a charrette there almost a decade ago. As well as an existing home Versaci purchased and moved into permanently about five years ago when he semi-retired from his architectural practice.

A few side trips were arranged: first to Lake Atilian, the deepest lake in Central America, that sits at the base of three volcanos, and also to Cayalá, a new town close to Guatemala City, which is being developed by a prominent Guatemalan family. Cayalá was designed with the support of new urban planners Leon Krier and Moule and Polyzoides, so it was especially fascinating for our group made up of archiects, planners and Seaside homeowners, to tour this new town.

We are currently gathering information for a trip to Croatia, which is planned for mid-September. Information about this trip is slated to be posted on our website in January. Visit www.seasideinstitute.org for more information.

Diane Dorney is the executive director of The Seaside Institute.

Guatemala is known for its textiles many of which are dyed with natural materials. Photo by Brian DiSabitano

The new town of Cayalá (foreground) sits just outside Guatemala City, the capital of Guatemala.