Santiago Calatrava Valls (born 28 July 1951) is a Spanish architect, sculptor and structural engineer whose principal office is in Zurich, Switzerland. Classed now among the elite designers of the world, he has offices in Zurich, Paris, Valencia, and New York City.
Early life and education
Calatrava was born in Benimamet, an old municipality now integrated as an urban part of Valencia, Spain, where he pursued his undergraduate architecture degree at the Polytechnic University of Valencia along with a post-graduate course in urbanism.
During his schooldays, he also undertook independent projects with a group of fellow students, bringing out two books on the vernacular architecture of Valencia and Ibiza. 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 largely dedicated 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, as well as the Allen Lambert Galleria in Toronto, Canada (1992), were important works and turning points 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 United States. Calatrava's entry into high-rise design began with an innovative 54-story-high twisting tower called Turning Torso (2005), located in Malmo, Sweden.
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 Felix Candela and Antonio Gaudi. Nonetheless, his style is also very personal and derives from numerous studies of the human body and the natural world.
As both an architect and an engineer, Calatrava easily identifies with both disciplines. He often creates innovative works that depend on a firm grasp of both the creative and structural aspects of design. His skills as an engineer allow him to create sculptural surfaces and unusual spaces. Calatrava avoids the apathetic acceptance of established forms. In 1979 he won the Auguste Perret award for rekindling the quality of Perret's structural work and for re-emphasizing the importance of primary structure in defining form.
Despite an influential presence within the European architectural community, Calatrava has rarely designed a totally enclosed building. Rather, most of his creations are open structures.
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