6 September 1998

                  Havana's architecture a mix of old and new

                  HAVANA (AP) -- For block after block, the visitor doesn't glimpse a single
                  structure built in the last 40 years. Suddenly, a gleaming high-rise jars the

                  Havana is an architecturally eclectic capital, from the Cathedral in Baroque
                  stone to the Capitolio in neo-classical marble, from the houses along the
                  seaside Malecon avenue in colonial plastered brick to the Melia Cohiba
                  Hotel in ultra-modern tinted glass.

                  Still, modern buildings are rare. From 1959, when Fidel Castro marched
                  into the capital, to the mid-1990s, the old part of Havana was left alone as
                  socialist planners concentrated on building huge apartment complexes and
                  factories on the city's outskirts.

                  Havana's tallest building, the Focsa apartments, was nearly completed in
                  1959. Its facade remains raw and unfinished today, a spectacular eyesore
                  rising above graceful two-story houses from the early part of the century.

                  The sea of colonial-era buildings is so unspoiled although often not
                  maintained that the United Nations has declared Havana a part of "human
                  heritage." And rather than destroy the old, Cuba has launched what for the
                  cash-hungry island is a large-scale restoration effort.

                  But after 40 years of decay worsened by the salty humidity of the seaside
                  city, a quarter of the buildings in Old Havana have suffered caved-in floors
                  and many collapse each year.

                  For Havana, it is a race against time.

                  Copyright 1998   The Associated Press.