There is a Spanish architect named Santiago Calatrava. Mr. Calatrava is apparently something of a big deal in Spain, and has designed a new PATH station in Lower Manhattan.
One of his big projects was the “City of Arts and Sciences” in a “dried-up riverbed” in Valencia:
Sounds pretty cool, right?
- The City of Arts and Sciences was originally budgeted at 300 million euros. So far, it has cost three times that.
- There are problems with some of the buildings. The opera house has 150 seats with obstructed views (though the NYT doesn’t give a figure for the total number of seats). The science museum was “initially built without fire escapes or elevators for the disabled”.
- Problems with Mr. Calatrava’s designs aren’t limited to Valencia.
- “In Bilbao he designed a footbridge with a glass tile surface that allowed it to be lighted from below, keeping its sweeping arches free of lampposts. But in a city that gets a lot of rain and occasional snow, pedestrians keep falling on the slippery surface. City officials say some 50 citizens have injured themselves, sometimes breaking legs or hips, on the bridge since it opened in 1997, and the glass bricks frequently crack and need to be replaced. Two years ago the city resorted to laying a huge black rubber carpet across the bridge.”
- Mr. Calatrava designed an airport terminal in Bilbao. He designed it without an arrival hall. “Passengers moved through the customs and baggage area directly to the sidewalk where they had to wait in the cold. The airport authorities have since installed a glass wall to shelter them.”
- Mr. Calatrava and his organization have been ordered to pay $4.5 million to settle a dispute over a conference center in Oviedo. The conference center collapsed.
- A winery is suing Mr. Calatrava over a leaky roof. (Frank Lloyd Wright, call your office, please.)
- Mr. Calatrava is being sued over cost overruns and repairs to the Ponte della Costituzione in Venice, a footbridge over the Grand Canal.
- The skin of the opera house is buckling.
One Valencia architect, Vicente Blasco, has taken Mr. Calatrava to task in a local newspaper for even trying to cover the steel sides of the opera house with a mosaic of broken white tiles. (That touch was Mr. Calatrava’s nod to another noted architect of Spain, Antoni Gaudí, who favored mosaics.) The flourish may have been a nice idea, Mr. Blasco said, but it was absurd. The buckling that is now occurring was predictable. On days with a rapid change in temperature, he wrote, the steel and tile contract and expand at different rates.
Mr. Calatrava was unavailable for an interview by the paper of record. However:
In a brief interview in Architectural Record magazine last year, he noted that clients were satisfied enough to come back for more. Among them are the cities of Dublin and Dallas. In that article, Mr. Calatrava called the uproar over his work in Valencia “a political maneuver by the Communists.”
I’m as anti-communist as the next guy (unless the next guy is Lawrence, who makes me look squishy). But when you are blaming roof leaks on the Communists, I think it is time to sit down and re-evaluate your designs, and how you got to this point in your life.