Santiago Calatrava, Engineer and Architect from Spain

b. 1951

In 2005 architect Santiago Calatrava discussed his design for the WTC Transportation Hub in NYC
Architect Santiago Calatrava discussing the World Trade Center Transportation Hub, 2005. Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Famous for his bridges and train stations, Spanish modernist Santiago Calatrava combines artistry with engineering. His graceful, organic structures have been compared to the works of Antonio Gaudí.

Background:

Born: July 28, 1951 in Valencia, Spain

Education:

  • 1975: Completed undergraduate studies at the Valencia Arts School and the Valencia Architecture School
  • 1981: Completed graduate work in civil engineering at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, Switzerland. Doctoral thesis: On the Foldability of Space Frames

    Important Projects:

    • 1989-1992: Alamillo Bridge, Seville, Spain
    • 1991: Montjuic Communications Tower, at the 1992 Olympic site in Barcelona, Spain
    • 1996: City of Arts and Sciences, Valincia, Spain
    • 1998: Gare do Oriente Station, Lisbon, Portugal
    • 2001: Milwaukee Art Museum, Quadracci Pavilion, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
    • 2003: Ysios Wine Estate Laguardia, Spain
    • 2003: Tenerife Concert Hall in Santa Cruz, Tenerife, Canary Islands
    • 2004: Olympic Sports Complex, Athens, Greece
    • 2005: The Turning Torso, Malmö, Sweden
    • 2009: Train Station, Liège, Belgium
    • 2012: Margaret McDermott Bridge, Trinity River Corridor Bridges, Dallas, Texas
    • 2014: Innovation, Science and Technology (IST) Building, Lakeland, Florida
    • 2015: Museu do Amanhã (The Museum of Tomorrow), Rio de Janeiro
    • 2016: World Trade Center Transportation Hub, New York City

    Selected Awards:

    • 1992: London Institution of Structural Engineers Gold Medal
    • 1993: Toronto Municipality Urban Design Award
    • 1996: Gold Medal for Excellence in the Fine Arts from the Granada Ministry of Culture
    • 1999: Prince of Asturias Award in Arts
    • 2005: AIA Gold Medal
    • 2007: Spanish National Architecture Award

    More About Santiago Calatrava:

    Architect, engineer, and sculptor, Santiago Calatrava received an AIA commemorative gold medallion in 2012 as one of the 15 Architects of Healing for his transportation hub design, the new train and subway station at the World Trade Center site in New York City.

    Calling Calatrava's work "open and organic," the New York Times declared that the new terminal will evoke the kind of uplifting spirituality that is needed on Ground Zero.

    Santiago Calatrava is not without his critics. In the world of architecture, Calatrava is typecast as more of an arrogant engineer than a designer. The vision of his aesthetics is often not well-communicated, or perhaps is absent from his designs. More importantly, perhaps, is his well-known reputation of unsupervised workmanship and cost overruns. Many of his projects have ended up in various legal systems as expensive buildings seem to deteriorate quickly into disrepair. "It is hard to find a Calatrava project that has not been significantly over budget," reports The New York Times. "And complaints abound that he is indifferent to the needs of his clients."

    Rightfully or not, Calatrava has been placed in the "starchitect" category, with all of its associated back-biting and egotism.

    Learn More:

    Sources: Santiago Calatrava, unofficial Web site devoted to the works of the contemporary engineer-architect. Facts, photos, guest book, and bookstore; Santiago Calatrava Official Site The official Web site for the architecture of Calatrava, with portfolio, biography, and spiffy but slow-loading graphics.(Requires Flash Player 9.); Transit Hub Design May Be Simplified Analysis of plans for reconstruction in New York City, from the New York Times. A Star Architect Leaves Some Clients Fuming by Suzanne Daley, The New York Times, September 24, 2013