A week of highs and lows for Calatrava

11 May 2012

Negative media for Santiago Calatrava in Valencia over escalating project costs

On Wednesday, world-renowned architect Sanitago Calatrava unveiled his Museum of Tomorrow; a project that is intended to revitalise Rio de Janeiro's waterfront in time for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics. But closer to home, in his native Spain, troubles are brewing over the escalating costs of his City of Arts and Sciences, a giant cultural park that some say is his greatest project.

What went wrong is a matter of opinion and investigation and also a political tug-of-war between opposing parties. The complaint, lodged by the leftist party, is over the architect's fees, which reportedly are based on a percentage of the cost of construction. But with the project costs now estimated to be double or triple the original figure, some are asking whether Calatrava is entitled to such enrichment for delivering the project over budget and behind schedule.

To be clear, the architect is not under investigation. And, while many of his projects are well over their initially stated budgets, the explanation for this is in part due to the complexity of the structures themselves. The criticism comes at a time when Spain's regional governments are struggling to justify a 'series of architectural white elephants', projects including museums and airports that were built during the decade-long boom.

Being a high-profile project by a superstar architect has put the City of the Arts and Science at the centre of the controversy. The situation has gotten downright ugly. A new website called calatratelaclave - which roughly translates as 'Calatrava bleeds you dry' - alleges that the cultural campus has cost more than €1bn to date and is still not finished.

Sharon McHugh
US Correspondent

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