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Felix Candela has traveled the world, winning many distinguished awards in his career. The reasoning for his initial travels from Spain to Mexico were not in pursuit of his career, though in his career this played a large part of his success as an architect/engineer/contractor. Felix Candela was born in Madrid, Spain in 1910. In 1927 Candela enrolled in La Esquela Superior de Arquitrectura, graduating in 1935; at which time Candela traveled to Germany to further study architecture. His studies ended very quickly when the Spanish civil war began in 1936. Francisco Franco made it known that he was in opposition to communism, thus against the Spanish republic due to their support from the Soviets. Stalin was in control of a very small part of the republic until he needed to end his support and prepare for a bigger battle of his own in 1938. When Candela returned to Spain to fight, he sided with the republic and fought against Franco. Candela became a Captain of Engineers for the Spanish republic after a short period of time. Unfortunately, while participating in the civil war, Candela was imprisoned in the Perpignan Concentration camp in Perpignan, France until the end of the war in 1939. Just over 700,000 people died in the Spanish civil war, and Spain was about to lose more of its population because of its post-war direction. The Spanish civil war ended when the Spanish republic fell for the last time in Barcelona in March of 1939. The fall of the republic resulted in the gain of absolute power by Franco, who remained the head of state until he died in 1975. Franco’s absolute rule drove many brilliant people from Spain, Candela included though under a different circumstance. Candela was released from the Perpignan Concentration camp after the war was ended in early 1939. Candela had fought against Franco; therefore he could not stay in the new Spain as long as Franco was the head of state. Candela was put onto a ship bound for Mexico, where he would start his career.
Felix Candela worked as an architect upon his arrival in Mexico until 1949 when he started to engineer many concrete structures utilizing his well known thin-shell design. Candela did most of his work in Mexico throughout the 1950’s and into the late 60’s. Many of his larger projects were given to him by the Mexican government, such as the Cosmic Rays Pavilion. By 1956, the population of the United States of Mexico had increased to approximately 30.5 million people, nearly a 40% increase since the start of the 1940’s. This huge population increase strained public works including housing and education. Due to the constraints of the public works spending developed in by the government in the early 1950’s, a surplus of funds was now available and needed to be put to use. With the economic prosperity the booming population brought with, Mexico was ready to develop. In 1956, Mexican President Ruiz Cortines said “Nothing could be more serious than to sit in the shade of the buildings we are about to build,” foreshadowing the many construction projects to come. Cortines came up with a budget to enable his construction declaration to come true, requesting $81,200,000 (pesos) more funding than was used in 1955. Luckily for Candela, $20,300,000 (pesos) of this funding was to go towards public works. Candela also benefited from the budget implemented by Cortines in the area of education. Candela became a professor in Mexico, which is what he did for the remainder of his career. Felix Candela died at the age of 87 years old in 1997 in North Carolina.
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