Asilo de Beneficencia
San Juan, Puerto Rico - 1992
The rehabilitation of this 19th century building, was programmed to accommodate the INSTITUTO DE CULTURA PUERTORRIQUEÑA (Institute of Puerto Rican culture/ ICP). The structure, part of Barrio Ballajá within the historic zone of San Juan, was originally built as the Casa de Beneficencia in 1842, enlarged in 1861, again in 1897, and suffered an intervention in 1930’s. It was used as a charitable institution by the Spanish, and as a military facility by US authorities from the early 1900’s through two decades after World War II. The building demanded extensive planning for effective adaptive use.
The illegal removal of architectural elements and vandalism during years of disuse required the replacement of all windows, all doors, and certain inappropriate, added-on finishes. Research done on the original building while working closely with the ICP produced the detailing for the contract documents. The partitions installed for various adopted uses were removed, and the institutional wards (former military barracks spaces) were returned to serve open, administrative chambers for the ICP. All mechanical, electrical, and water distribution as required by the program were routed and located so as to not distract from the essence of the restored spaces.