Santiago Calatrava

Santiago Calatrava Valls

Santiago Calatrava in the Auditorio de Tenerife.

Personal information



Birth date

28 July 1951 (age 58)

Birth place

Valencia, Spain


Valencia Arts School

Valencia Architecture School

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology


Engineering Discipline

Structural engineer, Architect, Sculptor

Institution memberships

Institution of Structural Engineers

Practice name

Santiago Calatrava

Significant projects

Athens Olympic Sports Complex

Alamillo bridge

Chords Bridge

Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències

Significant Awards

AIA Gold Medal

IStructE Gold Medal

Eugene McDermott Award

Prince of Asturias Award

Santiago Calatrava Valls (born 28 July 1951) is an internationally recognized and award-winning Valencian Spanish architect, sculptor and structural engineer whose principal office is in Zürich, Switzerland. Classed now among the elite designers of the world, he has offices in Zürich, Paris and Valencia.

Early life and education

Calatrava was born in Benimámet, an old municipality now integrated as an urban part of Valencia, Spain, where he pursued undergraduate studies at the Architecture School and Arts and Crafts School. Following graduation in 1975, he enrolled in the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, Switzerland, for graduate work in civil engineering. In 1981, after completing his doctoral thesis, "On the Foldability of Space Frames", he started his architecture and engineering practice.



Calatrava's early career was dedicated largely to bridges and train stations, whose designs elevated the status of civil engineering projects to new heights. His Montjuic Communications Tower in Barcelona, Spain (1991) in the heart of the 1992 Olympic site was a turning point in his career, leading to a wide range of commissions. The Quadracci Pavilion (2001) of the Milwaukee Art Museum was his first building in the US. Calatrava’s entry into high-rise design began with an innovative 54-story-high twisting tower called Turning Torso (2005), located in Malmö, Sweden.

Calatrava is currently designing the future train station - World Trade Center Transportation Hub - at the rebuilt World Trade Center in New York City.

Calatrava’s style has been heralded as bridging the division between structural engineering and architecture. In the projects, he continues a tradition of Spanish modernist engineering that includes Félix Candela and Antonio Gaudí. Nonetheless, his style is also very personal and derives from numerous studies of the human body and the natural world.

Recent projects

Puente del Alamillo at night, made for the Expo 92, Seville, (1992)

Tenerife Opera House, Canary Islands, Spain

TGV train station in Liège, Belgium

Bahnhof Stadelhofen in Zürich.

One of his newest projects is a residential skyscraper named 80 South Street after its own address, composed of 10 townhouses in the shape of cubes stacked on top of one another. The townhouses move up a main beam and follow a ladder-like pattern, providing each townhouse with its own roof. The "townhouse in the sky" design has attracted a high profile clientele, willing to pay the hefty US$30 million for each cube. It is planned to be built in New York City's financial district facing the East River. As of 2008 this project had been canceled; the Manhattan real estate market had gone soft, and none of the ten multi-million dollar townhouses had been sold.

He has also designed the approved skyscraper, the Chicago Spire, in Chicago. Originally commissioned by Chicagoan Christopher Carley, Irish developer Garrett Kelleher purchased the building site for the project in July 2006 when Carley's financing plans fell through. Construction of the building began in August 2007 for completion in 2011. When completed, the Chicago Spire, at 2,000 feet tall, will be the tallest building in North America.

Calatrava has also designed three bridges that will eventually span the Trinity River in Dallas. Construction of the first bridge, named after donor Margaret Hunt Hill, has been repeatedly delayed due to high costs, a fact that has sparked much controversy and criticism. If and when completed, Dallas will join the Dutch county of Haarlemmermeer in having three Calatrava bridges.

Santiago Calatrava was also recently hired to design Peace Bridge, a 130m pedestrian bridge to span the Bow River in downtown Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The bridge will cost approximately $24.5 million. The project was approved by city council in early January 2009 and is scheduled for completion in fall 2010. Public disclosure of Peace Bridge was made on 28 July 2009 to the public and praised as a sleek, elegant contribution to downtown Calgary. The design showed a sleek, tubular, single span red and white trestle, offering separate pathways for cyclists and pedestrians. The bridge is expected to serve 5,000 pedestrians and cyclists daily.

On 16 June 2009, it was announced that Calatrava would be designing the first building of the new University of South Florida Polytechnic campus in Lakeland Florida. This will be his first work in the southeastern United States.


Calatrava as sculptor

Calatrava is also a prolific sculptor and painter, claiming that the practice of architecture combines all the arts into one. In 2003, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City held an exhibition of his artistic work, entitled "Santiago Calatrava: Sculpture Into Architecture." Exhibitions of his work have also taken place in Germany, England, Spain, Italy and elsewhere.

Notable works


  1. Trinity Bridge, footbridge over River Irwell, Salford, England 1995

  2. Oberbaumbrücke, Berlin, Germany (1896) rebuilt and opened on 9 November 1994

  3. Alameda Bridge and metro station, Valencia, Spain

  4. 1983-1984, Jakem Steel Warehouse, Munchwilen, Switzerland

  5. 1983-1985, Ernsting Warehouse, Coesfeld, Germany

  6. 1983-1988, Wohlen High School, Wohlen, Switzerland

  7. 1983-1990, Stadelhofen Railway Station, Zürich, Switzerland

  8. 1983-1989, Lucerne Station Hall, Lucerne, Switzerland

  9. 1984-1987, Bac de Roda Bridge, Barcelona, Spain

  10. 1984-1988, Barenmatte Community Center, Suhr, Switzerland,

  11. 1986-1987, Tabourettli Theater, Basel, Switzerland,

  12. 1987-1992, BCE Place (atrium), Toronto, Canada,

  13. 1989-1994, TGV Station , Lyon, France

  14. 1992, Puente del Alamillo, Seville, Spain

  15. 1992, Puente de Lusitania, Mérida, Spain

  16. 1992, Montjuic Communications Tower at the Olympic Ring, Barcelona, Spain

  17. 1992, World's Fair, Kuwaiti Pavilion, Seville, Spain

  18. 1994, Mimico Creek Bridge, Humber Bay Parks, Toronto, Ontario

  19. 1994-1997, Campo Volantin Footbridge, Bilbao, Spain

  20. 1996-2009, Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències, Valencia, [Spain] View on the map

  21. 1996, Centro Internacional de Ferias y Congresos de Tenerife, Santa Cruz de Tenerife (Santa Cruz de Tenerife (province), Tenerife, Canary island, Spain)

  22. 1998, Gare do Oriente, Lisbon, Portugal

  23. 2000, New terminal at Bilbao Airport, Bilbao, Spain

  24. 2001, Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S. View on the map

  25. 2001, Puente de la Mujer, in the Puerto Madero barrio of Buenos Aires, Argentina

  26. 2003, James Joyce Bridge, bridge over River Liffey, Dublin, Ireland

  27. 2003, Auditorio de Tenerife, the architect’s first performing arts facility, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain

  28. 2004, redesign of Athens Olympic Sports Complex, Athens, Greece

  29. 2004, Sundial Bridge at Turtle Bay, Redding, California, USA

  30. 2004, Three bridges (called Harp, Cittern and Lute) spanning the main canal of the Haarlemmermeer, Netherlands

  31. 2004, University of Zurich, "Bibliothekseinbau" library remodelling, Zürich, Switzerland

  32. 2005, The bridge connecting the Ovnat shopping mall and the Rabin Medical Center (Beilinson) in Petah Tikva, Israel

  33. 2005, Turning Torso, Malmö, Sweden

  34. 2007, 3 Bridges on the A1 Motorway and TAV Railway, Reggio Emilia, Italy

  35. 2008, Chords Bridge at the entrance to Jerusalem, Israel, a light rail bridge

  36. 2008, Ponte della Costituzione footbridge from Piazzale Roma over the Grand Canal, Venice, Italy

  37. 2009, Liège-Guillemins TGV Railway Station, Liège, Belgium

  38. 2009, Samuel Beckett Bridge, bridge over River Liffey, Dublin, Ireland



  1. 1979 August Perret Award

  2. 1992 London Institution of Structural Engineers Gold Medal

  3. 1993 Toronto Municipality Urban Design Award

  4. 1996 Gold Medal for Excellence in the Fine Arts from the Granada Ministry of Culture

  5. 1999 Prince of Asturias Award in Arts

  6. 2000 Algur H. Meadows Award for Excellence in the Arts from the Meadows School of the Arts, Southern Methodist University

  7. 2005 American Institute of Architects Gold Medal

  8. 2006 Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts from the Council for the Arts at MIT,(Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

  9. 2006 Honorary Engineering Degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

  10. Designation as a Global Leader for Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum in Davos

  11. 2007 Honorary Engineering Degree from Columbia University

  12. 2007 Awarded with the Spanish National Architecture Award



Calatrava's work in Bilbao has been criticized for impracticality. The airport lacks facilities and the bridge's glass tiles are prone to break and get slippery under the local weather.[5] In 2007, Calatrava sued Bilbao[6] for allowing Arata Isozaki to remove a bar from the bridge to connect it to the Isozaki Atea towers. The judge ruled against Calatrava, on the ground that, although the building design is protected by the intellectual property law, public safety is more important than intellectual property.[7]. In a 2009 appeal he received 30.000€ in compensation. The Isozaki joint has been cited as bold and destructive.

Calatrava gifted the Municipality of Venice with the project of a new bridge on the "Canal Grande" in 1996. As of 2007, the project was still under construction. and has gone through numerous structural changes, because of the mechanical instability of the structure and the excessive weight of the bridge,[8] which would cause the bank of the canal to fail. In 10 years the project has been inspected by more than 8 different consultants and the cost has raised up to three times the original expectations;[9]. The work was completed in August 2008.