Santiago Calatrava- the Architect of Frozen Movement

Santiago Calatrava

Santiago Calatrava, an artist, in essence, an architect by vision, and an engineer of structural fluency approaches his platinum jubilee this year. Widely known for his bridges, railway stations, stadiums, and museums around the world. His designs have been as rare as the straight lines and right angles in his work. He developed a reputation for his ability to integrate innovative structural solutions with dramatic visual statements to both- buildings and bridges. He has been lauded throughout his career for his works. Which seem to transcend above physical laws and infuse a sense of motion into still objects. In the following article, let us quickly try and capture their life and legacy of his.

Santiago Calatrava

Profile of Santiago Calatrava

  • Name: Santiago Calatrava Valls
  • Date of Birth: 28-07-1951
  • Age:69
  • Place: Benimamet (Valencia), Spain
  • Education: Higher School of Architecture at Polytechnic University of Valencia, Civil Engineering from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich, Doctorate- Department of Architecture
  • Profession: Architect, Sculptor, Artist, Structural Engineer
  • Structures Designed: Pont de Calatrava, World Trade Center, Turning Torso, Milwaukee Arts Museum, etc.
  • Inspiration: Living organisms, Human Body, Works of Gaudi and Felix Candela
  • Net Worth: $ 1.4 Million
  • Offices: New York, Doha, Zurich

Early Life

Born and brought up in Valencia (Spain), Calatrava grew up with a passion for art. With the support and encouragement of his parents, he left home to join l’Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris. However, due to protests and riots in France at that time, he was forced to return home. Also, he enrolled in the Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura and went on to graduate from ETH Zurich in structural engineering. He further equipped himself with a Ph.D. in Technical Science, making him one of the very few structurally trained architects of his time.

Early Career of Santiago Calatrava

Santiago Calatrava- the Architect of Frozen Movement
Zurich Stadelhofen Railway Station
Santiago Calatrava- the Architect of Frozen Movement
Zurich Stadelhofen Railway Station

Also, Read: The Pritzker Architecture Prize 2021

His career kick-started when he won a competition to design a local train station in Zurich in the year 1981 featuring an abstract skeleton of a dog. And first American project was the Milwaukee Art Museum which went on to feature moving parts in addition to the curving concrete corridors of the earlier project. His early career also carved opportunities of designing bridges that helped define his reputation in the industry and to the World.

Santiago Calatrava- the Architect of Frozen Movement
Bac de Roda Bridge, Barcelona
Santiago Calatrava- the Architect of Frozen Movement
Lusitania Bridge, Merida, Spain
Santiago Calatrava- the Architect of Frozen Movement
Puente del Alamillo Expo 92, Seville

Project of the 90s

Calatrava built several remarkable stations and bridges before he began to expand his portfolio into a broader range of structures. He worked on the Passenger terminal for Bilbao airport. Also the Montjuïc Communications Tower- a 136 m high concrete spire. Which remains one of his most picturesque works to this day, Gare de Lyon Saint-Exupéry (1989–1994) and the Eastern Train Station in Lisbon.

Santiago Calatrava- the Architect of Frozen Movement
Montjuïc Communications Tower
Santiago Calatrava- the Architect of Frozen Movement
Atrium-Brookfield Palace, Ontario, Canada
Santiago Calatrava- the Architect of Frozen Movement
Bilbao Airport Control Tower
Santiago Calatrava- the Architect of Frozen Movement
Bilbao Airport Passenger Terminal
Santiago Calatrava- the Architect of Frozen Movement
Gare do Oriente, Lisbon, Portugal

Also, Read: Pioneer of Modern Architecture: Corbusier

Other Notable Works of Santiago Calatrava- Museums, Concert Halls, And Skyscrapers (Late 20th and Early 21st Century)

Moreover, Calatrava began the 21st Century with a new addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum, a concert hall in the Canary Islands, a twisting skyscraper in Sweden, a winery resembling a wooden castle, each with an astounding and exceptional form.

Santiago Calatrava- the Architect of Frozen Movement
The Milwaukee Art Museum
Santiago Calatrava- the Architect of Frozen Movement
Bodegas Ysios Winery, Laguardia
Auditoria de Tenerife, Canary Islands
science Museum, Valencia
Turning Torso, Malmo, Sweden
Guillemins railway station, Liege
The City of Arts and Science
Palace of the Arts in Valencia
Calatrava Pedestrian Bridge, Athens
Velodrome, Athens

Also, Read: Renzo Piano: Ecological Innovator

Recent Major Projects

Over the last decade, he has been the architect of very many significant architectures around the globe- Palace of Congresses, Oviedo, Spain; Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, Dallas, Texas; Peace Bridge, Calgary, Canada; Florida Polytechnic University; Museum of Tomorrow, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; WTC Transportation Hub, New York;

Controversies And Criticism

However, in the wake of 9/11, Calatrava received the proposal to redesign the PATH Rail Terminal at World Trade Center. However, his design began a series of controversies due to numerous delays and overshooting budget. This pattern was soon found in a number of projects. And his projects began to draw commendation as well as criticism. Rightly pointed out in an article by Suzanne Daley in the New York Times on 13 September 2013 quotes, “Santiago Calatrava collects critics as well as fans”.

However, the glass tiles on the Bilbao Bridge became slippery in the rain. Or the overheating due to the ceramic tiles on the surface of the opera house in Valencia, most of these issues have generally been caused due to the addition of innovation and insufficient material testing.

Style and Influence of Santiago Calatrava

The architect, Calatrava has never proclaimed or described himself as a follower of any particular school or movement of architecture. However, some critics see his work as an extension of expressionism. While some believe that his work has been influenced by that of Felix Candela, a fellow Spaniard who created a number of remarkable thin-shelled concrete structures. The works of Gaudi, the human figure, and nature’s creativity are his other sources of inspiration.

An artist, in essence, has often spoken about the connection between sculpture and art. “Architect of Frozen Movement” seems to be an apt and appropriate title to this architect who

 “I have tried to get close to the frontier between architecture and sculpture and to understand architecture as an art.”-Santiago Calatrava

The relationship of his works of art to his built designs is complex. And he continues to make ‘structural compositions’. Calatrava is clearly a figure to be reckoned with, a leading light of a generation that has begun to dominate world architecture. Instead of creating efficient envelopes, he has set out to create spatial experiences.

Also Read: Zaha Hadid & her Architecture philosophies

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