The Real Deal recently scored an interview with Santiago Calatrava, the so-called "symphonist of steel" behind the upcoming (and wildly over budget) World Trade Center Transit Hub, and the nearby Saint Nicholas Church. In the interview, Calatrava explained how New York City's building code impacted the two projects’ designs, offers his thoughts on the World Trade Center master plan, and comments on the construction quality of the Transit Hub. Overall, the controversial architect lavishes praise on just about everyone—from Daniel Libeskind to Larry Silverstein to the Port Authority.
Posts tagged with "Santiago Calatrava":
When a huge piece of a starchitect-designed building comes crashing to the ground, the architectural world tends to notice. We are of course talking about the recent reaction to the 176-pound piece of concrete that fell off Zaha Hadid's Library and Learning Centre at Vienna University of Economics and Business. Making matters worse for Hadid, this is the second time the building has shed a piece of its skin. But Zaha is not alone; shed(-ding) happens. As we wait to hear what exactly happened in Vienna - an initial report suggests the issue stems from "defective installation" of the facade - we put together a list of some other starchitect buildings that have, let's say, lost a little bit of themselves. First, let’s go back in time—back to 1970s Boston when Henry Cobb's Hancock Tower is straight-up dropping 500-pound glass panes (at least 65 of them) onto the city below like in some sort of horror movie where buildings have rejected their human creators. Terrifying stuff. In a Pulitzer Prize–winning story, the Boston Globe reported on what exactly caused the building's window system to catastrophically fail:
Each panel was a sandwich: two layers of glass with an air space between, all held in a metal frame. To cut the glare and heat of the sun, a coat of reflective chromium was placed on the inside surface of the outside pane of glass. (This layer of chrome was what gave the building its mirror effect.) The window frame was bonded to the chrome with a lead solder. During the testing, it was noticed that when a window failed, the failure began when a tiny J-shaped crack appeared at the edge of an outside pane of glass. What was happening was this: The lead solder was bonding too well with the chrome—so well, so rigidly, that the joint couldn't absorb any movement. But window glass always moves. It expands and contracts with changes in temperature, and it vibrates with the wind. So the solder would fatigue and crack. The crack would telegraph through to the glass, and the cycle of failure would begin.Next we turn to Santiago Calatrava–the Spanish architect with a penchant for creating soaring buildings that are often accompanied by soaring budgets; for more on that, just Google Santiago Calatrava. Great. But right now let's focus on his Queen Sofía Palace of the Arts that opened in Valencia in 2005. The structure, which CityLab perfectly described as a mix between a bird's skull and a stormtrooper's helmet, had to be repaired because pieces of its tile mosaic facade were blowing off in high winds. And then just last year in London, two steel bolts the size of human arms dislodged from Richard Rogers' Leadenhall Building, which is better known as the "Cheesegrater." Thankfully, nobody was injured from the incident. But that's not the end of the Cheesegrater bolt story. As recently as last week, it was reported that a third bolt had fractured on the building. British Land, a developer of the building, said in a statement that the broken piece was "captured by precautionary tethering put in place last year." That's good. After some tests, it was concluded that "bolts had fractured due to a material failure mechanism called Hydrogen Embrittlement." Many bolts are now being replaced, but the developer insists there is, "no adverse effect on the structural integrity of the building." Now, let's head back stateside to Chicago. Do you remember that time the glass coating on the Willis Tower's observation deck cracked? If you were the tourists standing on the SOM-designed attraction 1,353 feet above the city you probably do. Sure, while everyone was fine and nothing was structurally wrong, just imagine being the people up there when that happened—just imagine that. Of course this list of high-profile architects would find its way to Frank Gehry. A while back the most famous architect of them all was sued by MIT for supposed flaws in his $300 million Stata Center. While pieces of the building didn't fall off, it was said to have leaks, cracks, and drainage problems. “These things are complicated,” Gehry told the New York Times after the suit was filed, “and they involved a lot of people, and you never quite know where they went wrong. A building goes together with seven billion pieces of connective tissue. The chances of it getting done ever without something colliding or some misstep are small.” And now let's end this list where we started it, with Zaha Hadid. Just a year after her dramatic Guangzhou Opera House opened in China, it began showing problems—lots of problems. In 2011, the Guardian reported that "large cracks have appeared in the walls and ceilings, glass panels have fallen from [Opera House] windows, and rain has seeped relentlessly into the building." In fairness to Zaha, the Wall Street Journal noted that when it comes to construction practices in China, architects have little say.
The World Trade Center Transportation Hub—or as its designer Santiago Calatrava likes to think of it, the "bird in flight"—is just blocks from AN's office, so we get to walk by and watch it try to take off regularly. But in the weeks before the holidays, odd “struts” started to be welded between the structure’s giant fins or blades. Not only do these lateral supports detract from the elegance of its long thin blades, I don’t remember seeing them in the renderings of the station. So I went back through every image I could find online and none show these connectors. In many of the renderings, the overlapping of the transit hub's fins obscures where the connectors would have been located. The renderings fades into solid white, obscuring those areas from clear view. Could it be that these were added later in the design process or did Mr. Calatrava know all along that these were needed to help support the weight of the fins? What do you think? Do they compromise the design?
With the final rafter installed on Santiago Calatrava’s World Trade Center Transit Hub the New York Times has done a deep-dive on how, exactly, the long-delayed structure ended up costing close to $4 billion. While the hub ultimately looks more like a stegosaurus than a dove taking flight, as Calatrava originally envisioned, it is undeniably a head-turning piece of dramatic architecture. But one that will be forever grounded by the reality of its staggering price tag. To find out how the Hub's budget soared right along with Calatrava's ambition, the Times conducted two dozen interviews and pored through hundreds of pages of documents. In the end, the Times said the problems go “far beyond an exotic and expensive design by its exacting architect, Santiago Calatrava.” The site's complexity, the hub's changing designs, security concerns, the lack of consistent oversight, and the price of labor and materials all slowed things down and increased costs, but, above all else, the $4 billion cost comes down to politics, politics, politics.
Earlier this week, AN went up to the 67th floor of the recently-opened 4 World Trade Center to get a progress report on the 16-acre redevelopment taking shape below. Inside the wide-open and raw space, Larry Silverstein, the site’s developer, told reporters that his vision for a new World Trade Center had finally become a reality. “I’ve gotten a bit of a reputation as a wild-eyed optimist,” he said in front of a wall of windows. “But even I have to admit that I didn’t see all this coming.” Noting that it had been 13 years since the attacks, he went on to refer to the anniversary as the site’s “bar mitzvah.” From high up in Fumihiko Maki’s celebrated 4 World Trade it’s easy to see how much has changed at the World Trade Center site over those 13 years—and how much still needs to get done. Looking straight down the tower’s western edge, you can see the pools of the 9/11 Memorial Plaza which opened in 2011 and the adjacent 9/11 Memorial Museum that came on-line three years later. Next to that is Calatrava’s bird-like transportation hub where workers could be seen busily welding on the structure's skeletal wings. That project is scheduled to open in the second half of 2015, years behind schedule and at a cost of nearly $4 billion. A few blocks north of the winged creature is 7 World Trade, the David Childs–designed building that opened in 2006 and is fully leased. Across Vesey Street is another Child's tower—the site’s centerpiece—the 1,776-foot-tall One World Trade. After years of delays, the building is expected to open some time this fall. As of now, the tower is about 60 percent leased. The same can be said for 4 World Trade. "I am both humbled and inspired by the process. It is never an easy process, and why should it be?" asked Daniel Libeskind, who crafted the site's masterplan. "This is New York City, there are so many stakeholders, so much to be done, and so much to think about." But there is obviously so much more to be done still—so many missing pieces in Libeskind's plan. Just this month, the board of the World Trade Center's performing arts center announced it had scrapped Gehry's decade-old design for the project. The board told the New York Times that is currently looking for a new architect to take over. And then there is Calatrava's other project at the site, the new St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, which is still a few years off. While looking straight down from 4 World Trade shows how much has been rebuilt since 9/11, looking straight out reveals how much has not. The Midtown skyline that served as a backdrop for the event's speakers may have been impressive, but it was a blatant reminder of what has not been accomplished since the Twin Towers came crashing down. Because, at this point in the reconstruction process, employees in 4 World Trade Center shouldn’t have an entirely unobstructed view of Midtown—there should be two other glass towers in the way: 3 World Trade by Richard Rogers and 2 World Trade by Norman Foster. Silverstein said that the former should be completed by 2018, but as for 2 World Trade Center, it’s anyone’s guess. In a fact sheet distributed by representatives of Silverstein Properties, the tower's completion date is conspicuously left off.
According to a report in the Bergen Record, the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey gave Santiago Calatrava, the renowned Spanish architect whose lust for gold is as vigorous as that of his conquistador forebears, $500,000 for two bridge designs that will not be built and to which Calatrava will retain the copyrights. Sound shady? Anyone who has had the opportunity to use the Port Authority Bus Terminal will not be surprised to find out that it is. In 2012, two Port Authority commissioners (say hello to David Steiner and Anthony Sartor, a couple of wise guys who have resigned since the check signing went down) pushed for inclusion of the world-class architect in two of the agency’s bridge projects. The first, the Goethals Bridge, which connects Elizabeth, New Jersey, and Staten Island, was already years in the making when Steiner brought Calatrava’s plans to the agency. “Beautiful but unusable” was the agency’s verdict. Steiner, however, remained undeterred. Months later, he pushed for Calatrava’s involvement on the Bayonne Bridge. The committee responded in the same way as before. But a series of hush-hush meetings and closed-door negotiations lead the Port Authority to write a check to Calatrava some months later, the official explanation being that they viewed his designs to compare them with their own. Funnily enough, Calatrava was not happy with the windfall. He asked for almost $3 million and would not give consent for the Port Authority to use the rights for the plans otherwise. Stalemate? It would seem so. $500,000 is the maximum amount the agency can spend without submitting the allocation to a public vote by governor-appointed commissioners.
A tipster shared with us the above view of Santiago Calatrava's World Trade Center Transit Hub receiving the final piece of its giant steel arch. According to the tipster, "they JUST set the final tooth on the World Trade Center Transit Hub to complete the supporting structural system. Once welding is complete they will proceed with installing the "wings," the cantilevered outriggers that complete the structural form." Looks like this thing is about to soar.
The Milwaukee Art Museum announced in 2012 that it would add a new entrance as part of a $15 million project to renovate the museum’s permanent collection galleries. Two years later, with $13 million raised and public support secured, the project is ready to move ahead. But the original lead designer, Jim Shields, is no longer involved. Urban Milwaukee first reported that Shields, a celebrated local architect whose work includes the Museum of Wisconsin Art and the Milwaukee Public Museum’s Butterfly Vivarium, turned over the design reigns to other members of his firm, HGA Architects and Engineers. What exactly precipitated that reorganization is still unclear, but museum director Dan Keegan said a team of designers, contractors and museum curators filled in when Shields either left or was pushed out of the design process at this late phase. Though similar to the 2012 proposal, the new design adds a second floor to the 17,000-square-foot addition, as well as an outdoor area cantilevered out toward Lake Michigan. It lacks Shields’ glassy, double-height frontage onto the lake. The plan calls for more exhibition space, including a 5,000-square-foot gallery for feature exhibitions and a sculpture gallery visible from outside. Part of the goal is to engage the lakefront Oak Leaf Trail, inviting passersby to engage beyond the iconic brise-soleil of the building’s Santiago Calatrava–designed Quadracci Pavilion. The new front door is also closer to the parking lot, facilitating circulation. Instead of walking more than half a mile to enter through the 2001 Calatrava addition, visitors coming from the north can use a much closer point of entry that looks out to Lake Michigan—not the busy lakeside streets of downtown Milwaukee. Milwaukee County is also pitching in $10 million to repair the museum and the adjacent Eero Saarinen–designed War Memorial building, which suffer from structural problems including foundation seepage and leaky windows. The museum’s grand reopening is slated for October 2015.
Social media was abuzz recently over the reports by eavesdrop, the WSJ, and other major papers about the biggest recession scab over Chicago: the failed Spire designed by Santiago Calatrava. That Irish pie in the sky developer apparently found someone to bail the project out of its foreclosure. Everyone was all, “It’s back on!” Dear readers, until they start pumping the water out of the big hole in the ground, Eavesdrop is betting against this one.
Santiago Calatrava’s soaring World Trade Center Transportation Hub is still a year from completion, but major developments are happening as his winged-structure preps for flight. Earlier this week, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey unveiled the first platform of the new World Trade Center PATH Station. And what a platform it is. To get a sense of it, picture the typical New York City subway platform in all of its glory. And now picture the exact opposite. That is the new Platform A. Calatrava’s signature beams are canopied like fabric above gleaming marble floors. The bright lighting, LED signage, and all that white marble give the subterranean station an incredible airiness. It is pristine – and not just for a public transit station. This week’s unveiling comes four months after the transit hub’s $225 million, 600-foot “West Concourse” opened to the public. For those trying to do the math, that's $375,000 a foot. And while that pricey marble might be aesthetically pleasing, it could certainly be a problem when it rains. After already spending so much money, those New York-New Jersey commuters better hope the Port Authority has some cash left over for rubber mats.
As AN reported earlier, Santiago Calatrava's legal battles with a number of his former clients are ongoing. The Spanish architect is embroiled in a number of disputes regarding issues of budget, maintenance, and functionality the costliest of which concerns the rapid deterioration of the facade of an opera house Calatrava designed in his hometown of Valencia, Spain. Now Graphenano, a Spanish manufacturer of graphene paint is offering a possible solution for the beleaguered architect. The company claims that a coating of their product would be enough to save building's problematic mosaic exterior. Graphenstone is a paint from a mixture of limestone powder and graphene and has already been used to protect the facades of older buildings in other parts of Spain. (Image: Courtesy Graphenano)
Santiago Calatrava has been ordered by a Spanish court to pay $4 million for problems plaguing a municipal building he designed in Oviedo in Northwest Spain. While the final fee is lower than an initial ruling, such legal problems have become something of an unfortunate calling card for the Spanish architect. The Palacio de Congresos de Oviedo was completed in 2011 and features the soaring forms and white ribs that tend to populate Calatrava's work. The suit stems from issues involving the construction of the building as well as the project's final budget, which exceeded original estimates. Calatrava's fairly loose interpretation of budgetary restrictions has come under fire throughout the architect's prolific career. He is also in the midst of a legal battle regarding an opera house in Valencia whose final cost of $455.6 million—four times greater than its original budget—was not enough to ensure structural stability for more than a decade. Part of Valencia's City of Arts and Sciences that the architect had a major role in designing, the concert hall is the biggest fish in a sea of problems besetting the complex. Practicality has also not always been a strong suit for the architect. Bridges in Venice and Bilbao have both developed reputations for the extreme slipperiness among other issues. An airport he designed for the latter city was found lacking in a sheltered arrivals hall, a problem that Calatrava himself was forced to remedy. And the list continues. Assuming all goes according to plan, by 2015 New Yorkers will be able to witness what may be the zenith of the troubled beauty that has come to define Calatrava's works. The World Trade Center Transporation Hub represents his avian aesthetic at its most striking. However, the project's completion date is six years behind schedule, while its initial budget of $2 billion has since swelled to $4 billion.