Friday, February 24, 2006

Santiago Calatrava

Milwaukee Art Museum

While I was at the Met recently, they had an exhibition of Santiago Calatrava. I was first introduced to his works when I was in Bilbao - actually to be accurate, I got the introduction just as I was arriving because the Bilbao airport is one of his works. He is also responsible for a footbridge just downstream from the infamous Bilbao Guggenhiem.

When I was in Chicago, I took a trip up to Milwaukee to take a look at his addition to the Mikwaukee Art Museum. It was well worth it, as it's quite an amazing bit of architecture. The 'wings' on the building, called the Burke Brise Soleil close each day at noon.

Calatrava is also responsible for the new PATH station at the site of the to be re-built World Trade Center in New York. His work lends itself to transportation, as it invokes speed, weightlessness and an ability to defy gravity and physics in the same way that our airplanes and cars seem to do today. Most of his works are bridges, stations and airports - but recently he has expanded to towers, and perhaps like Renzo Piano, this will move him towards the architecture A-list. His 80th South Street tower, located near the heavily-touristed area of South Street Seaport will surely bring mainstream recognition for such a bold project.

Both of Calatrava's (only) New York works are still in planning or construction, but you can expect a fair bit of attention and revisiting of his past works when they are complete.

Of course, to Canadians, Calatrava is best known for Toronto's BCE Place which is rightfully considered an architectural landmark, despite it's lack of marquee purpose (it is a public galleria, and not a museum or other high-profile building)

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