Santiago Calatrava is renown for his spectacular bridges, airports and museums and yet some of his projects cause massive headaches for the towns and cities where they are built.
- In Oviedo, he and his team had to pay 3.3 million euros in compensation for a conference centre that suffered a structural collapse.
- The spectacular bodega that he designed for Ysios in Avala has a persistent leaking roof.
- And in Bilbao, the glass tiled bridge that he built to take people across the river to the Guggenheim museum has proved to be too slippery in the rain. The authorities covered it with a huge black rubber carpet but even that caused problems when it flipped up during a storm.
- His Ponte della Costituzione across the Grand Canal in Venice has exceeded its budget threefold and his 15 million euro plans for three skyscrapers and eight residential blocks in Valencia were scrapped when the property bubble burst in Spain.
The latest controversy is over the opera house at the Palau de las Artes in Valencia. In spite of only being built eight years, the white ceramic skin was starting to show wrinkles over a year ago. Last week’s high winds brought masonry down forcing the authorities to cancel concerts there.
Blame for the rapid deterioration of buildings within the complex lie with Mr Calatrava, who was paid close to 100 million euros for the project that came in at four times over budget with a final price tag of over 1 billion euros.
You can’t help but feel that some modern architects go too far in their desire to create spectacular designs. Maybe they should take a step back and produce buildings that are longer lasting and are fit for their purpose.
Of course, the issue about whether Valencia should have embarked on such an expensive project in the first place is another matter.