Santiago Calatrava is a bridge builder. Both an architect and engineer, he links disciplines as well as riverbanks using the tools of his professions, along with science, art, and music, to create some of the most expressive structures of our time.
Calatrava has completed more than thirty bridges internationally; his Sundial Bridge at Turtle Bay in Redding, California, is his first in the United States. The cable-stayed structure links the north and south sections of an exploration park, and features a towering 217-foot steel pylon with a glass and granite deck which hovers above the Sacramento River. The bridge’s translucency lends a feeling of lightness; more important, it serves an ecological purpose by not casting a shadow on the spawning salmon pond below.
Trained initially as an architect in Spain, Calatrava obtained a doctorate from the ETH (Federal Institute of Technology) in Zurich, Switzerland. He won his first competition for a railway station in Zurich, which became a significant urban insertion, linking a neighborhood to a town square as well as providing a
full-service train station. Calatrava has also accomplished this, but on a much larger scale, in his design for the World Trade Center Transportation Hub in Lower Manhattan. Conceived as a soaring, freestanding structure of glass and steel with
a vast network of underground connections to subway and New Jersey Transit Path lines and adjacent buildings, the terminal is a gathering place. On mild, sunny days as well as on September 11th each year, the roof will part mechanically to a maximum opening of approximately forty feet, bringing both light and sky into the building. For this reason, Calatrava speaks of light as a structural element, and states that the building is supported by “columns of light.”
Like his monumental bridges, Calatrava’s towers at 80 South Street in New York City and Fordham Spire in Chicago are both sculptural and virile in their structural expression. They offer a bolder new skyline for each of these cities known for their
skyscrapers and, like all of Calatrava’s structures, perform as an aerialist—effortlessly stretching, waving, twisting, and cantilevering their forms in midair.