World’s Top Architects: The Most Iconic Projects by Santiago Calatrava ⇒ Today we will get acquainted with the top architect from Spain, Santiago Calatrava. He was born in Valencia, Spain in 1951. Calatrava is known for his works in architecture and engineering. He is from Spain and he moved to Zurich after finishing his degree in architecture in 1974 where he studied engineering. During his degree in architecture, he and some fellow students published architecture books about the vernacular of Valencia and Ibiza. Calatrava is also a sculptor and a painter. Today, CovetED will show some of Calatrava’s most iconic Architecture projects.
In Zurich, he took a PhD in Technical Sciences. It was there that his passion for architecture started: he was an assistant at the Institute for Building Statics & Construction and Aerodynamics & Lightweight Construction. During this time, he participated in his first architectural practice. After these events, Calatrava became a member of some architecture associations: Schweizerische Ingenieur- und Architektenverein (SIA), International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering (IABSE), Bund Schweizer Architekten (BSA), International Academy of Architecture (IAA), Fazlur Khan International Fellowship for Arch. & Engineering, and SOM Foundation. In 1988, Calatrava participated in the 17th Triennale di Milano. He went to Paris to complete his second practice.
At the beginning of the 90’s, he started his third architectural and engineering practice in Valencia. In 1992, he joined Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Carlos in Valencia as an honorary member. He was distinguished with Doctor Honoris Causa by the Polytechnic University of Valencia and the University of Sevilla. He also received the Doctor Honoris Causa of Letters in Environmental Studies award in Heriot-Watt University Edinburgh. Nowadays, he has offices in New York City, Doha and Zurich.
Background & Realizations: The Most Iconic Projects
Oriente Station in Lisbon
His initial work was concentrated on railway stations, such as the Oriente Station in Lisbon. Calatrava proposed piercing the embankment to establish a link between the previously separated areas of the Olivais District. Conceived as Expo’s primary transport connection, Oriente Station has proved to be the main component in the transformation of Olivais District. It has become one of Europe’s most comprehensive transport nodes: an important interchange for high-speed intercity trains, rapid regional transport, standard rail services, tram and metro networks.
Montjuic Communications Tower in Barcelona
The Montjuic Communications Tower rises to a height of 136 meters, dominates the main group of sports facilities on the slopes of the Montjuic in Barcelona, the site of the 1992 Summer Olympic Games. A competition entry for Telefonica, the steel tower is sited immediately next to the Palau Sant Jordi Arena, designed by Arata Isozaki. The tower not only became a symbolic focus to the dispersed Olympic complex but also a landmark for the city. Santiago entered in the high-rise design with his project called Turning Torso (2005), located in Malmö, Sweden.
Santiago Calatrava claims that with his projects he continues a Spanish tradition in modernist engineering, that includes influences of renowned architectures like Félix Candela, Antonio Gaudí, and Rafael Guastavino.
WTC Transportation HUB in New York
In January 2004, Santiago Calatrava unveiled his design for the World Trade Center Transportation Hub: a new, permanent facility for Lower Manhattan, located immediately to the east of the original World Trade Center Twin Towers. The project replaces the original Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) rail system that was destroyed on September 11, 2001. In addition to serving the Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) commuter trains, the building also connects to New York City subway trains (1, A, C and R lines); to provide seamless, indoor pedestrian access to Brookfield Place, towers 1, 2, 3 and 4, as well as the new Fulton Street Transit Center; and creates an inspiring, light-filled public gathering place.
Calatrava’s first major design for the WTC Transportation Hub was a free-standing structure, the Oculus, situated along the southern edge of Daniel Libeskind’s Wedge of Light plaza. This way it creates a kind of pause amid the dense commercial towers and links the procession of green spaces extending from City Hall Park to the churchyard of St. Paul’s, through the WTC Transportation Hub plaza to the gardens of the Memorial and Battery Park along the Hudson. TheOculus is comprised of steel ribs and glass arrayed in a large elliptical shape. The ribs extend to create two canopies over the north and south portions of the plaza.
The rafters spring from two 350 ft. arches flanking the project’s central axis. Between the arches, a 330 ft. operable skylight frames a slice of the New York sky that opens on temperate days as well as 9/11. According to Santiago Calatrava, its form can be summed up by the image of a bird released from a child’s hands. Oculus allows natural daylight to flood into the WTC Transportation Hub; filtering down through all levels eventually to the PATH train platform, approximately 60 ft. below the street. At night, the illuminated building will serve as a lantern. Santiago Calatrava speaks of light as a structural element in the WTC Transportation Hub saying that the building is supported by ‘columns of light.’
Calatrava’s World Trade Center Transportation Hub is set to open this year, the glorious birdlike structure boasts a 355-foot-long operable Oculus that floods the hub’s interior with natural light, all the way down 60-feet below street level to the PATH train platform. As of right now, it’s the world’s most expensive transit hub.
City of Arts and Sciences
Santiago Calatrava’s City of Arts and Sciences has taken a starring role in Tomorrowland, Disney’s latest blockbuster. It is located in the former riverbed of the Turia in Valencia. The City of Arts and Sciences includes a cinema (L’Hemisfèric), a landscaped walk and sculpture garden (L’Umbracle), the Príncipe Felipe Science Museum, the largest aquarium in Europe (L’Oceanográfico), and the renowned Palau de Les Arts Reina Sofia. The complex was constructed in stages commencing in July 1996 and opened to the public in October 2005. Unique and strikingly futuristic, the iconic group of buildings caught the eye of Tomorrowland producer Jeffrey Chernov who spoke effusively about it at a recent press conference for the film.
Florida Polytechnic Building Awarded “Best in Steel Construction” by AISC
In 2009, Santiago Calatrava was selected to create the master plan for the new Florida Polytechnic campus and to design the first building to be constructed. The university campus, through its formal arrangement and iconographic imagery, defines an institution that endeavours to give physical representation to man’s highest aspirations.
The American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) recognizing exemplary work in steel for both its architectural and structural merits, awarded Santiago Calatrava’s Innovation, Science, and Technology building at Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland with the national award of $15 million to $75 million categories.
“You have to have endurance in this profession. You start a project as a young person and then at the end you are another person. You are ready to go for your passion.”
“There was a wish to get something exceptional, … I also wanted to deliver something technically unique.”
“I have tried to get close to the frontier between architecture and sculpture and to understand architecture as an art.”
“I am always searching for more light and space.”
“The most touching thing that anyone can say to me is that I have done something beautiful for the community.”
“He taught readers that they deserve beauty and meaning and must demand it in their cities. He taught me, and many architects, that we must answer this demand and never stop challenging ourselves.”
“I wanted to do a very slender building and a very transparent one.”
“It’s very atmospheric. It’s not a building that is a severe statement in the skyline. We need the height; otherwise, the building almost disappears because it is so slender.”
Talent is something that grows within you
Calatrava grew up in an established family involved in the primary industry, specifically agricultural exports. The family’s hillside home was imposing with large rooms which Calatrava later named as an inspiration for his attraction to major projects and big spaces. Though his father favoured commercial activities, he also loved art and took his son to see Spain’s greatest museum, the Prado in Madrid. Calatrava started to show an interest in sculpture and drawing, and by the time he was eight he had enrolled in art classes in Valencia.
Calatrava’s family had suffered during the political upheavals of the 1930s in Spain, and they saw an international future as their son’s best chance. When he was 13, they took advantage of a liberalization of travel restrictions imposed by Dictator Francisco Franco in order to send him to Paris under a student exchange program. He later took classes in Switzerland and learned German and other languages.
At this point, Calatrava still hoped to become an artist. He made plans to attend art school in Paris at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts (School of Fine Arts), but he arrived in mid-1968 but found out that his classes had been cancelled due to the protests of the time. Back in Valencia, he decided to attend the Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura (Technical University of Architecture). He is still designing exquisite pieces, and it is something that Calatrava will do for the rest of his life, it’s in his soul.