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Friday, August 19, 2011

Pablo Antonio, National Artist in Architecture

Pablo S. Antonio, National Artist in Architecture (1976) pioneered modern Philippine Architecture. His architecture adapts the Art Deco techniques which is dominant motif during his time. His design is based on simplicity and clean structural design. The lines are clean and smooth, and where there are curves, these are made integral to the structure. He believes that function come first before elegance. Antonio's design focus on the maximum use of natural light and cross ventilation, He strives to make each building unique, avoiding obvious trademarks. Antonio himself has been quoted as stating that "buildings should be planned with austerity in mind and its stability forever as the aim of true architecture, that buildings must be progressive, simple in design but dignified, true to a purpose without resorting to an applied set of aesthetics and should eternally recreate truth".

Antonio was born in Binondo, Manila in 1901, orphaned by age of 12 and did part time job in daytime to supplement his study at night. He studied architecture in Mapua Institute of Technology and later transfer to University of London after securing scholarship from Ramon Arevalo, the engineer in charge in Legislative Building (now National Museum of the Philippines where Antonio assist in the design and construction). He graduated in 1927 for only three years of study (normal is 5 years).

In 1933, he designed the Ideal Theater in Avenida, Rizal Avenue which is one of his major works that made him prominent in architecture. The founder of Far Eastern University, Nicanor Reyes, deal with him to make several buildings in the campus. The FEU campus is considered as the largest ensemble of surviving Art Deco architecture in Manila, and in 2005, it received an Honorable Mention citation from the UNESCO for the body's 2005 Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards for Culture Heritage Conservation.

Antonio's other major projects includes Manila Polo Club in 1950, Lyric Theater, Galaxy Theater, Life Theater, Scala Theater, Ramon Roces Publications Building (now Guzman College of Science and Technology), Capitan Luis Gonzaga Building, Boulevard-Alhambra apartments in 1937 (now Bel-Air) and White Cross Sanitarium in 1938.

In 1976, he was he was named National Artist of the Philippines, he was only the second architect so honored, after his contemporary, Juan Nakpil.

Ideal Theater in 1930s design by National Artist Pablo Antonio in 1933
Ideal Theater on the left designed by Pablo Antonio and on the left is State Theater designed by Juan Nakpil

Far Eastern University designed by Pablo Antonio in the late 1930s
Facade of White Cross Sanitarium designed by Architect Pablo Antonio in 1938
Image Source
Manila Polo Club by Pablo Antonio
Guzman College of Science & Technology formerly Ramon Roces Publications Building
Boulevard-Alhambra (now called Bel-Air) Apartments Building in Roxas Boulevard designed and built in 1937
Life Theater in Quezon Blvd. Manila
Lyric Theater along Escolta Manila
Galaxy Theater by Pablo Antonio
National Artist of the Philippines Award in Architecture

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