Biography of Santiago Calatrava, Engineer and Architect

In 2005 architect Santiago Calatrava discussed his design for the WTC Transportation Hub in NYC

Mario Tama / Getty Images News / Getty Images

Famous for his bridges and train stations, Spanish modernist Santiago Calatrava (born July 28, 1951) combines artistry with engineering. His graceful, organic structures have been compared to the works of Antonio Gaudí.

Fast Facts: Santiago Calatrava

Known For: Spanish architect, structural engineer, sculptor and painter, particularly known for his bridges supported by single leaning pylons as well as his railway stations, stadiums, and museums, whose sculptural forms often resemble living organisms.

Born: July 28, 1951

Education: Valencia Arts School, Valencia Architecture School (Spain), Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, Switzerland

Awards and Honors: London Institution of Structural Engineers Gold Medal, Toronto Municipality Urban Design Award, Gold Medal for Excellence in the Fine Arts from the Granada Ministry of Culture, Prince of Asturias Award in Arts, AIA Gold Medal, Spanish National Architecture Award

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, Valencia, 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

Career Highlights

A renowned 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 would 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.


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Craven, Jackie. "Biography of Santiago Calatrava, Engineer and Architect." ThoughtCo, Jul. 29, 2021, Craven, Jackie. (2021, July 29). Biography of Santiago Calatrava, Engineer and Architect. Retrieved from Craven, Jackie. "Biography of Santiago Calatrava, Engineer and Architect." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 10, 2023).