Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava has become known internationally for the strange covering he designed for the Olympic Stadium in Athens (completed in the nick of time) and for what he plans to build in the World Trade Center transportation hub. In an article (In his native Valencia, an architect sets his imagination free, August 16) for the International Herald Tribune, Dale Fuchs describes Calatrava's less-known work for the City of Arts and Sciences in his native Valencia, Spain, which is
shaping up to be the largest concentration of his work to date. It is arguably one of his most imaginative, too. "For the first time, it's not just a building solo on the landscape but a whole environment," said Terence Riley, chief curator of the department of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, now showing an exhibit on skyscrapers including Calatrava's twisting high-rise in Malmo, Sweden. "One structure builds on the other, and the space between them becomes another design."The Prince Felipe Science Museum features "220 meters of white concrete prongs [that] resemble the ribs of a dinosaur or the spine of a giant fish." The Hemisfèric next door resembles a floating tortoise or, from another angle, "the building also resembles a giant, free-floating eyeball. It even seems to blink as a steel-and-glass shade opens and closes. Salvador Dalí would be proud." The Palau de la Música, "a performing arts center and 1,888-seat opera house, resembles a ship with round portals, or the cracked shell of an egg in which the main auditorium itself is the yolk." Have a look at some pictures.
Calatrava, 54, has been working on this futuristic array of buildings—a museum, an opera house, a planetarium and an esplanade-cum-parking lot—since 1991. The €400 million, or $490 million, complex, whose final phase will be completed in 2005, includes an aquarium with a space-age look designed by the Spanish architect Félix Candela. But the City is dominated by some of Calatrava's greatest hits: movable pieces, suggestions of sun-bleached animal skeletons and sweeping sheaths that seem to defy gravity beneath the hot, blue Valencia sky.