LUXURYCULTURE.COM - CALATRAVA'S ART FORM

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The genius behind some of the world's most spectacular structures, architect Santiago Calatrava talks shop.

Architect, engineer, sculptor, artist—all faithfully describe the role that Santiago Calatrava plays when creating some of the world's most spectacular monuments in modern engineering.


A student of art, architecture, and later, civil engineering, Santiago Calatrava won his first architectural competition in 1983. Today his super structures garner worldwide attention barely before the ink has dried on the contract, let alone before groundbreaking commences, ranking him as one of the world's greatest civil engineers of his time, following in the footsteps of his personal luminaries Brunel and Stephenson.

Bridges have become something of a forte within his elaborate repertoire, beginning with Barcelona's Bach de Roda Bridge, the first of many (30 in all). These stunning constructions span the rivers of the world, from Buenos Aires to Basel. "I like to work on these kind of projects and to work for people in general; it's a very honorable job for an architect. You experience the joy of seeing the utility of your building and the dedication of the building to the community," he explains. Calatrava is currently working on a trilogy of bridges in Texas, which will span the Delaware River.

However, his most newsworthy accomplishment to date is his involvement in the impressive regeneration program of New York's Ground Zero. The World Trade Center Transportation Hub, an incredible glass and steel dome, which stands 75 feet tall at its apex, will be the main station for downtown Manhattan's nine-to-fivers.

"I am very pleased and also very proud to have the opportunity to work in this wonderful city, also in this particular moment, which is historical in a way, with the rebuilding of Ground Zero," he admits. The overall project is due for completion in September 2010.

Adding drama to the NYC skyline, work recently commenced on what is sure to become the city's most exclusive private address—80 South Street Tower. "In my opinion it is a continuation of the Turning Torso," he explains, referring to southern Sweden's star attraction and his first completed high-rise project.

Based on one of his incredible sculptures of the human form in movement, the luxury living cubes—stacked precariously like the vertebral discs of the spine—will be built on Manhattan's waterfront.

One of the most striking observations of Calatrava's work is the use of rounded and elliptical forms. Each initial idea resembles a Da Vinci sketch, rather than a structural plan. This is attributed to his passion for art and sculpture, which he practices each day and believes is integral to his designs. Take the Turning Torso for example, although constructed of blocks which spiral in lateral forms, the twisting structure creates a roundness and poetry, which exists within each project. "I have tried to get close to the frontier between architecture and sculpture and to understand architecture as an art." He says. With each new commission, he accomplishes the unimaginable, securing his a place as an icon within the worlds of art and engineering.

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