Idael Cárdenas

Idael Cárdenas


Idael Cárdenas is a designer and writer whose work frequently deals with both the art of making and socially responsible architecture—often tackling the two through narrative. Originally from Cuba, his research interests lie in the ramifications of the sugar industry on the Island, investigating how in more ways than one, our personal geographies are inherently linked to the legacies of colonial-economic processes. In his professional career, Idael has worked on a range of projects; from high-end residential to historic-adaptive reuse.  

Idael received his Bachelor of Design, summa cum laude, at the University of Florida and his Master of Architecture with Distinction at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design.

Summer Research Travel Grant Recipient for thesis-project proposal: [Re]Contextualizing Cuba’s Agricultural Artifacts. Awarded by Harvard University’s David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies. 2023.
Architecture Achievement Award Recipient. Awarded by The School of Architecture at the University of Florida. 2019.
Team placed Second for The Barbara G. Laurie Student Design Competition, at the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) 44th Annual Conference. Los Angeles, 2016.

National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA)


The Territory of Memory from a Land of Sugar: Cas-Cal, Cas-Cal. Published on ReVista, The Harvard Review of Latin America. 2023.

Contributor, Revitalizing Onomichi: Architecture, Community, Territory. Published by Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. 2023.

Speaking Engagements
Need to Know

Proudest accomplishment? Completing and presenting my Master of Architecture thesis! It took a lot of hard work—researching, writing, and traveling—but the end-result made me feel closer to home, and my family.

Favorite book? There’s a few: The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu, Before Night Falls: A Memoir by Reinaldo Arenas, The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, and Pedro Páramo by Juan Rulfo.

Favorite mode of transportation? Traveling by train!

Favorite recipe? Ropa vieja—a Cuban specialty.

Favorite thing about your career? Witnessing first-hand how thoughtful design can positively impact people’s daily lives.