'True artist' Calatrava awarded European Prize for Architecture in New York

by Kim Megson | 17 Nov 2015

Europe’s most prestigious architecture prize will today (17 November) be awarded to the Spanish designer Santiago Calatrava Valls.

The European Prize for Architecture is presented annually to individuals who have “blazoned a new path and direction for an architecture that is deeply humane and committed to forward the principles of European humanism.”

Calatrava – who is also a structural engineer, sculptor and painter – is famous for his artistic neo-futuristic creations; particularly his work on cultural buildings, bridges and railway stations. His designs include the Allen Lambert Galleria in Toronto, Canada; the Milwaukee Art Museum in the US; the 54-storey twisting Turning Torso tower in Malmo, Sweden; the roof of the Athens Olympic stadium in Greece; and the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia.

He is currently working on a six-mile-long bridge in Doha, Qatar; three bridges near Wuhan in China and the World Trade Center Transportation Hub at Ground Zero in New York, where he will be presented the European Prize.

“He is a visionary theorist, philosopher and utopian and a true artist in the craft of engineering and architectonic expressionism,” said Christian Narkiewicz-Laine, the president of the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design – which co-organises the award with the European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies.

“His buildings are not just 'buildings', they are powerful works of art; inspired by a master's gifted hand and sculpted by a superior, critical eye; immensely evocative and fiercely intellectual.”

Countering criticism from some quarters that Calatrava’s projects often go over budget and fall behind schedule, Narkiewicz-Laine pointed to the popularity of the architect’s works and said “what important building has never been controversial?”

“Isn’t the public reaction very telling about what the best good architecture and best good design should be?” he added. “Nothing by this architect goes unnoticed. You are made aware that you are somewhere special. By building inspiring architecture in public places and for the public, Calatrava has added much to the definition of what is civic realm.”

Last year the European Prize was won by Italian architect Alessandro Mendini; famed for his work on the famous yellow tower of the Groninger Museum in the Netherlands.

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Europe’s most prestigious architecture prize will today (17 November) be awarded to the Spanish designer Santiago Calatrava Valls. The European Prize for Architecture is presented annually to individuals who have “blazoned a new path and direction for an architecture that is deeply humane and committed to forward the principles of European humanism.” Calatrava – who is also a structural engineer, sculptor and painter – is famous for his artistic neo-futuristic
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Calatrava's City of Arts and Sciences building in Valencia / David Iliff
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