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Mario Coyula and his wife Marta Aquino

This website is dedicated to remembrances and tributes about  Mario Coyula, created for his friends and family.

Also included are photos and works by Mario at tabs above.

Your remembrances and tributes may be written as a comment on the Your Remembrance page, see tab at top.

Celebrating the Life of Mario Coyula

Mario Coyula’s life was celebrated at a memorial event on Nov. 1, 2014 at the New School in New York City.  Here is the program of the event, including links to most of the presentations.


  • Michael Cohen, The New School

Mario Coyula’s Life

  • Tribute to Mario by Lucía López Coll, read by Alexia Lalli (Spanish and English). Spanish version originally published by IPS.
  • Visual overview of Mario’s life by Isabel Rigol (PowerPoint with English titles). It was orignally prepared for the Sept. 4 tribute to Mario in Havana, and was expanded and English title added for the Nov. 1 memorial.

 Mario’s professional achievements

  • Lee Cott (English)
  • Eusebio Leal via video (Spanish with English subtitles).  At the Sept. 4 tribute to Mario in Havana, Eusebio Leal – who had been recovering from surgery – made a surprise appearance. He is the Havana’s official historian, and his office is in charge of the historic preservation of Old Havana and several other key areas of the city.

 Mario’s family, friends and co-workers

 Marta Aquino

Personal tributes



El Habanero Mayito, por Félix Contreras

Cuánto lo vamos a extrañar, Sí, porque “El Habanero Mayito” (Mario Coyula Cowley) era, es, más habanero que el Morro, y más útil que el mismo Malecón. Servicial, generoso, plasmó esa habaneridad en excelentes obras de su propia profesión de arquitecto, en textos para revistas (Revolución y Cultura que amaba) y en libros tan memorables como aquel que urdió con otro inolvidable habanero nacido en Italia, arquitecto y cercano amigo, Roberto Segre.

Nada lo detenía siempre y cuando fuera algo relacionado con la “tan maltratada capital” de todos los cubanos y, él, el número uno. Y, de esto qué mejor prueba que aquellas memorables charlas que organizó en el Grupo para el Desarrollo Integral de la Capital en 1998 y, ¿para qué?, pues para hablar de La Habana, ¿cómo si no? Pero, ¿con quiénes? pues, con Segundo Curtis, Eduardo Robreño, Adelaida de Juan, Ambrosio Fornet, Rosita Fornés, Natalia Bolívar, Graziella Pogolotti, Pastorita Núñez, entre otros y, qué piquete… Continue reading

Thoughts from Alex and Carmen Taranu

My thoughts:

‎We have all heard the sad news of Mario Coyula passing recently. Mario had a lot of friends in Canada from the ICOMOS tour of Havana in 2006 and his visit and lectures in 2007.

He charmed everyone with the depth of his knowledge of Cuba’s history, urbanism, and architecture, his passion for beauty and character and not the least his wonderful storytelling.

For me and my wife there are many moments to remember him – from the tour of Havana, to the days when we were privileged to host him in Toronto. Continue reading

Homenaje al reconocido arquitecto e intelectual, por Lucía López Coll

Also posted to IPS website en español and English translation

No quisiera que este artículo se leyera como un obituario. Los obituarios
hablan de la destacada trayectoria profesional de la persona fallecida, de
sus logros fundamentales o de sus mayores éxitos, y a veces se olvidan del
hombre que soñó, trabajó y hasta sufrió por esos logros. Los homenajes por
lo general están contaminados por esa fría formalidad de los actos oficiales
y tampoco desearía que este artículo se leyera únicamente como un homenaje.
En este momento en que todavía lo sentimos tan próximo, me gustaría
simplemente recordar a Mario Coyula Cowley como el intelectual que ha dejado
una impronta innegable en el entorno cultural cubano, el profesional de
reconocido talento que tanto admiramos y el hombre de acendrados valores
humanos que respetamos todavía más. Continue reading

Havana’s Architectural Artist, by Sandy Levinson

by Sandy Levinson, Director of the Center for Cuban Studies

MARIO COYULA, ¡Presente!

Mayito, as we all called him, died in his beloved city, Havana, on July 7 at the age of 79. With his death, Havana lost one of its greatest defenders – and loving critics. Havana for Mayito was a magnificent obsession, and at times he spoke in a lover’s language as his frustration grew with Havana’s many unsolved problems. We shared his love, and his frustration, and most of all, we wanted to share his passion.

Mayito came into my life the very first year I traveled to Cuba. Early career dreams had included wanting to be an architect, and to meet the refined and encyclopedic Mayito, who knew everything one wanted to know about Havana architecture – the built, the unbuilt, the destroyed, the when-will-we-build-it?, and so much more – was magical.

There wasn’t a question he couldn’t answer. He gave history, context, building materials. The city and its people came alive with Mayito’s anecdotes and commentary. Continue reading

Message from Marta

English translation of a message Mario’s wife Marta sent out to  friends who sent condolencias. The original Spanish version is further down the page.

Dear friends,

It was all quite simple. Yesterday at noon Mayito was cremated and at 3 p.m. we placed his ashes next to those of his son, Xavier in Colon Cemetery. It was an intimate group, just a few family members and friends, just as we wanted it. People should be honored while still alive, and also after death, but at a different time other than at the final farewell, which should be completely intimate and secluded. I believe that this is the least opportune moment for such honors.

Perhaps friends will criticize me that it was not possible for them to make their last goodbyes, as it’s formally called. I feel that wakes and programmed funerals sometimes turn into a social event, especially when it involves such a well-known person.

I don’t want to make excuses but rather explain my position. I have always thought this way, and fortunately Mayito’s two children have supported me in this decision. True friends, the real admirers of his work and as a person don’t need this farewell. Instead, the farewell could be the last time they saw him with all his physical and mental faculties intact. On the other hand, it would be a partial farewell. He will be present whenever they read him, see some of his projects, and remember his fine sense of humor, his sardonic commentaries, his witty critiques, his being a gentleman and decent person. Or as Desiderio Navarro told me: “In the face of new and old abberations and stupidities I will find myself saying ‘What would Mayito have said about this!’”

A sad and grateful abrazo,

Marta, Mariana and Miguel

Spanish version: Queridos amigos,

Todo fue muy sencillo, ayer a las 1200pm fue cremado y a las 300pm depositamos las cenizas de Mayito junto a las de su hijo Xavier en el Cementerio de Colon. Fue muy íntimo, unos pocos familiares y amigos, tal como lo queríamos. Los honores se hacen en vida, después tambien se hacen, pero en otro momento que no sea la despedida final que debe ser de absoluto recogimiento e intimidad. Considero este momento el menos oportuno para hacerlo.

Quizás los amigos me reprochen que el tiempo no les permitió el último adios como se dice formalmente. Yo siento que esto de los velorios y los entierros programados se convierten a veces en un evento social sobretodo cuando son personas tan conocidas.

No quiero con esto disculparme, sino explicarme, siempre he pensado de esta forma y por suerte sus dos hijos me apoyaron en esta decisión. Los verdaderos amigos, los verdaderos admiradores de su obra y su persona no necesitan esa despedida. La despedida puede ser la ultima vez que lo vieron en todas sus facultades físicas y mentales. Por otro lado será una despedida a medias, el estará presente siempre que lo lean, vean algunas de sus obras, recuerden su fino sentido del humor, la mordacidad de sus comentarios, sus críticas agudas, su condición de caballero, de persona decente o como me decía Desiderio Navarro: Ante nuevos y viejos extravíos y barbaridades ya me sorprenderé diciéndome: “¡Lo que hubiera dicho Mayito de esto”

Un triste y agradecido abrazo,

Marta, Mariana y Miguel