Santiago Calatrava: Esquire’s Portrait of the 21st Century
Santiago Calatrava has devoted his career to bridging the gap between structural engineering and architecture by bringing artistic flair to functional civic buildings. Already well-respected in Europe for his train stations, airports, and bridges, Calatrava is moving to the forefront of American architecture with several major U.S. projects. His first U.S. building was an addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum. The dynamic white structure, whose winglike roof opens and closes twice daily, has become as much a draw as the artwork inside. In 2003, Calatrava was selected to design the $2.2 billion transportation hub at the World Trade Center site.
Much of Calatrava’s work begins in his paintings or sculptures. He is as heavily influenced by the natural world—a venus flytrap, the human eye—as by his background in engineering, and he also leaves cables and other structural elements exposed. Trained as an architect in Spain, he moved to Switzerland in 1973 and earn a Ph.D. in civil engineering at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. In 2005, Calatrava won the Gold Medal, the American Institute of Architects’ highest honor.