Santiago Calatrava - Architect

by TessaSchlesinger

by Tessa Schlesinger. The architect whose buildings are the most stunning, the most exotic, the most expensive, and the most exotic in the world.

Like Gaudi, Santiago Calatrava is a Spanish architect whose work is so overwhelmingly different, so exotic in its expression, and so breathlessly unique it its engineering and design, that he, too, has won international recognition and acclaim. If you've never heard of Calatrava, that's not unusual, but if you would like to learn some more about the fabulous world renouned architect, then read on...

Spanish Architect Santiago Calatrava

Brief bio of Santiago Calatrava

Calatrava was born on July 28th, 1951 in Valencia, Spain. After he graduated from high school, he went to art school for a year. He then switched to architecture and upon obtaining his degree, did post graduate work on urbanism. He then relocated to Zurich in Switzerland where he studied civil engineering at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. Upon completion of his degree, he became a doctoral student and wrote a thesis entitled, “Concerning the Foldability of Spaceframes.” This ‘foldability’ is seen in the buildings that he has designed and, like Gaudi, it brakes with conventional architectural design.

He opened an office in Zurich in 1981 then another in Paris in 1989, and recently, one in Valencia. In the 19 years that he has been practicing his profession, he has won numerous awards including the AIA Gold Medal,the IStructE Gold Medal, the Brunel award, the European Award for Steel Structures, as well as being honored with numerous honorary doctorates. Initially, he worked on bridges and train stations. The Lyon-Satolas TGV Train Station in Lyon France is an unworldly structure that has utilized concepts in engineering that defy gravity. Later, he was hired to design buildings. Each building that he created so caught the imagination of many that he is currently one of the world’s most sought after and prestigious architects.



Style of Calatrava's Buildings

No two buildings that Calatrava does is the same. His buildings are often experimental and they often seem to defy the laws of gravity. This is probably what he meant to write about in his doctoral thesis on foldability.

It is his ability to use state-of-the-art engineering techniques with artistic visually stunning buildings that has caught the eye of the international community. The city of Sevilla (Spain) hired him in the late 80s to build a bridge that became a feature of Expo 1992. The bridge was built in a shape of a harp and it became, not only a talking point, but a tourist feature. It was the start of a career in which he has continued to design and build in ways never done before. The only style that is common to all his buildings is simply that it has never been done before.

The Turning Torso in Malmö
The Turning Torso in Malmö
The Chords Bridge in Jerusalem, Israel
The Chords Bridge in Jerusalem, Israel
Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències, Valencia, Spain
Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències, Va...
Puente del Alamillo in Seville
Puente del Alamillo in Seville

Calatrava Santiago

California - Cathedral of Christ

In recent years, Calatrava has completed the Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland, California, the Milwaukee Art Museum, the 2004 Olympic Sports Complex in Athens, Greece, a bridge in Petah Tikva, Israel, the Liege-Guillemins TGV Railway Station in Liege, Belgium, and the Turning Torso in Malmo, Sweden. This last project is a skyscraper building that twists and turns like a spiral spring. Like many of his other architectural wonders, it could come straight out of a sci fi movie!

Google Profile of Santiago Caltrava
Google Profile of Santiago Caltrava

Calatrava Building in Chicago

Chicago Spire

He also designed the Chicago Spire, a skyscraper intended to be the tallest building in America. .Building commenced in 2007 and was planned to be finished in 2011. Unhappily, the project was shut down due to a lack of funds and the only evidence of its existence is now a big hole on North Lakeshore Drive.



Santiago Calatrava
In Valencia, on the Mediterranean in Spain, he built a planetarium inspired by his sketch of a human eye, complete with a hydraulic lid that closes. A drawing of a man's midsection gave rise to the twisting form of a residential tower called Turning Torso in Malmo, Sweden. In Santa Cruz de Tenerife, in the Canary Islands, the canopy arched over his opera house resembles a petal of a flower.

Newsmaker: Santiago Calatrava
The renowned Spanish engineer and designer is the subject of an exhibition opening today at Russia's Hermitage Museum—the institution's first retrospective devoted to a contemporary architect. Calatrava speaks candidly with Architectural Record about the show, his work, and the criticism he often faces.

Architect Santiago Calatrava accused of 'bleeding Valencia dry'
Calatrava has charged some €100m (£81m) to the Valencia government, according to the website, established by the leftwing Esquerra Unida party. The party says it has managed to see copies of bills paid by the People's party regional government to the architect, who is now based in Zurich.

Calatrava Multi-faceted Genius

Santiago Calatrava Awards

As with many geniuses, Calatrava has more than one string to his bow. His initial year at art school was not wasted. His work as a sculptor and painter has been shown at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, as well as in Germany, England, Spain, and Italy. Both his architectural works and his artistic endeavours have won much recognition. These include the Fazlur Khan International Fellowship award, the Medaille d'Argent de la Recherche et de la Technique, the Gold Medal, as well as a showing at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He also won the Eugene McDermott awrd for art, about the most prestigeous art award anyone can win. In addition, he has won the August Perret Award,  the Toronto Municipality Urban Design Award, several Gold Medals from various institutions throughout the world, the Prince of Asturias Award, the Algur H Meadows Award, the James Park Morton Interfaith Award, the Amreican Institute of Architects Gold Medal, several Honory Engineering Degrees, the Spanish National Architecture Award and a designation of Global Leader for Tomorrow by World Economic Forum.

And you haven't heard of him?

Some of the Most Expensive Buildings in the World.

Cost of Calatrava's Buildings

Santiago Calatrava’s projects do not come cheap. They cost many, many millions of dollars and are generally only afforded by governments, cities, and the very wealthy. When he has been asked to keep the cost down, he has a standard reply. He explains that buildings were meant to last a thousand years and that to build like that costs a lot of money. He says that he is building for tomorrow. My thought on that? If we have a planet filled with Calatrava's Buildings of Tomorrow, it will always be pleasure to go for a walk or a drive anywhere in the world...


Updated: 08/27/2013, TessaSchlesinger
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TessaSchlesinger on 02/12/2013

Mira, I am deeply envious. All I can do is look at the photos. I would love to see one of his buildings in real life! :) You are so lucky!

Mira on 02/12/2013

I have yet to see his buildings in Valencia. And others, if I get lucky. I did get lucky once, in fact, in Tenerife. He designed a concert hall there. I didn't get to go inside though but spent some time admiring the exterior and taking photos.

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