Many of us have been awestruck by the works of Santiago Calatrava Valls while completely unaware of his prodigious contributions. The Spanish architect, structural engineer, painter and sculptor is indeed world famous but unlike a Frank Gehry, I.M. Pei or Norman Foster, has not won the Pritzker Architecture Prize … yet.
So while the veritable Nobel Prize and Academy Award of his craft may yet elude Calatrava, we can certainly admire and marvel his spectacular body of work to date. In the mold of fellow Spanish architects Montaner, Gaudí and Candela, the native of Valencia with offices in Paris, Zürich, as well as his hometown, melds form and function in magnificent fashion.
With that in mind, enjoy these diverse projects by Santiago Calatrava. From his signature cantilever spar cable spans to high-speed rail stations, skyscrapers to telecommunication towers, the man is a genius. Future Calatrava landmarks in the works include the Chicago Spire, World Trade Center PATH Station, Calgary Peace Bridge and Atlanta Symphony Center.
Liège-Guillemins TGV Station, Liège
Over 35,000 people use this paramount transportation hub in Belgium every day. Calatrava’s incredible makeover in 2009 put the Liège high-speed rail station on the map.
Zürich Stadelhofen, Zürich
A soprano’s aria away from beautiful Opernhaus Zürich, the Stadelhofen is another superb Calatrava station. The purposeful marriage between old and new is sublime.
James Joyce Bridge, Dublin
The name seems to denote a landmark of yore but the James Joyce Bridge is a relative newcomer on the Dublin cityscape. Built in 2003, the single-span steel structure is modest but turns heads all the same.
Auditorio de Tenerife, Tenerife, Canary Islands
The Canary Islands city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife is incredibly fortunate to have not one, but two standout Calatrava works. The regal Auditorio de Tenerife is a new symbol of the Autonomous Community archipelago and is perhaps the architect’s most remarkable achievement. Calatrava was also the talent behind the city’s massive multi-purpose convention center complex.
Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
The reality is that before Santiago Calatrava came to town, Milwaukee did not have a reputation as a hub of modern, progressive architecture. The Wisconsin city has one now however, all because of the brilliant Quadracci Pavilion at the Milwaukee Art Museum.
Puente del Alamillo, Seville
The Seville cityscape seems impossible to picture without the now-indelible Puente del Alamillo. Built for Expo 1992, the unusual span was the pioneer and inspiration behind other Calatrava designs, from Sundial Bridge at Turtle Bay in California to Puente de la Mujer in Buenos Aires, Jerusalem Chords Bridge to Samuel Beckett Bridge in Dublin.
Torre Telefónica, Barcelona
Just a “mere” telecommunication tower, the Montjuic Communications Tower, or Torre Telefónica, was built expressly for the Barcelona Summer Olympics. Because of a typical Calatrava twist however, the structure is now one of the most recognizable in the city of Antoni Gaudí.
HSB Turning Torso, Malmö
Cross the insane Öresund Bridge from Copenhagen and the first landmark to grab your attention will be Calatrava’s deconstructivist masterpiece in Malmö, Sweden.
Gare de Saint-Exupéry TGV, Lyon
Another Calatrava train station to put a second city on the progressive architecture map is Lyon’s alien-like Gare de Saint-Exupéry. A good reason to catch the TGV into the Rhône-Alpes city.
Ponte della Costituzione, Venice
Santiago Calatrava’s career has not been free of controversy or criticism. But then, few architects or artists who leave their mark on the world do so without the occasional feather ruffle. A case in point is the Ponte della Costituzione in Venice. Can one truly do justice to the UNESCO World Heritage city and Most Serene Republic with a modern piece of architecture? Not in the esteem of some apparently. The “Calatrava Bridge” (as most call it now) is perennial source of derision for cost overruns, lack of handicap access, incompatible aesthetics and impractical placement over the Grand Canal. A good many people however, think the Ponte is a stroke of Calatrava genius.
Brookfield Place Allen Lambert Galleria, Toronto
Recent additions to Toronto’s skyline and cityscape have put in on the map with architecture enthusiasts. Calatrava’s phenomenal atrium in Brookfield Place, the home of the Hockey Hall of Fame, certainly helps.
Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències, Valencia
Santiago Calatrava’s contribution to his hometown of Valencia has to rank as is magnum opus. The spectacular Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències is the most popular modern tourist attraction in the beautiful city and a household name achievement in architecture among those who love, admire and toil in the discipline. The multi-purpose cultural and entertainment complex was a joint effort with the help of Pritzker Prize laureate Félix Candela.
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