Famous for his sculptural bridges and buildings, Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava was born on 28 July 1951. He had this inclination towards arts since a very early age. To pursue his passion, he joined a drawing and painting class when he was eight years old. In order to have a deeper glance at field of his interest he visited France and Switzerland during his teens. As a child, Calatrava wanted to become a sculptor but later got enrolled at the Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spain and got his degree in architecture in 1974.
After completion of degree he did several independent projects with his fellow students and also published two books. Later in 1975 he got enrolled in the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich to pursue a civil engineering degree. After completing his PhD in civil engineering, he officially started off his architecture and civil engineering practice. Due to such fine qualification, Calatrava is counted among architects with strong grip over engineering.
The transition of Calatrava from small scale projects to major civic projects came through a competition in which he designed Zurich’s new train station. In early phase of his career, he gained fame as the architect of bridges. His engineering expertise helped him with getting through these projects and he made around 50 bridges right at the start. His asymmetrical bridge designs supported with concrete and steel and dramatic structures soon attracted worldwide attention and earned Calatrava a lot of international fame.
Calatrava worked mostly with concrete and steel and produced incredible sculpturous buildings and bridges. By 1990 Calatrava made an addition to the uniqueness of his traits and started adding movable features to his buildings. Kuwait Pavilion for Expo ’92 (1991–92) is a fine example of this series. Calatrava tried to fill the gap between architecture and structural engineering and made these two fields go hand in hand in his projects. He poured in his personal style statement in modern engineering techniques and left long lasting impression of his work with extensive study on human body, nature and its various aspects.
Some major contributions done by Santiago Calatrava are:
- 1983–84, Jakem Steel Warehouse, Munchwilen, Switzerland
- 1983–89, Hall of Lucerne railway station, Lucerne, Switzerland
- 1986–87, Tabourettli Theater, Basel, Switzerland,
- 1991–95, Alameda Bridge and Metro Station, Spain
- 1992, World’s Fair, Kuwaiti Pavilion, Seville, Spain
- 1994–1997, Campo Volantin Footbridge, Spain
- 2000, New terminal at Bilbao Airport, Spain
- 2003, James Joyce Bridge, bridge over River Liffey, Ireland
- 2007–2012 Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, Dallas, Texas, US
- 2009, Caja Madrid Obelisk, Madrid, Spain
- 2012, Peace Bridge, Calgary, Canada
- 2013, Medio Padana Station on the Milan–Bologna high-speed railway, Reggio Emilia, Italy
Calatrava believes that practice of architecture gathers all fields of arts and pool them together in one creation. This is the reason, along with his architectural projects, he did not lose grip on his skills of painting and sculpting. He even boosted his work through exhibitions held at different venues. Santiago Calatrava still enjoys designing bridges while staying in Zurich with his family and overseeing offices in New York City, Doha and Zurich.