Prince of Asturias Prize 1999


Santiago Calatrava

In the end of May, in what he has described as a ‘succession of miracles,’ Santiago Calatrava was almost simultaneously named doctor honoris causa by the University of Lund, Sweden and winner of the Prince of Asturias Prize for the Arts. Competing in the final stages against artist Miquel Barceló, whose work he confesses both to admire and to collect, the architect born in 1951 in the Valencian town of Benimámet became the third architect ever to merit this distinction, following the Brazilian Oscar Niemeyer and the Spaniard Francisco Javier Sáenz de Oíza. The jury considered Calatrava’s precociousness as well as his pursuit of risk, materialized in an output that unites sculpture, architecture and engineering. From studios in Zürich, Paris and Valencia he is now building bridges for Holland and Venice, a museum in Milwaukee, a new terminal for Bilbao’s Sondica Airport, and a high-speed railway station for Liège. But the work Calatrava claims to be proudest of is the City of the Arts and the Sciences in Valencia, an ambitious recreational and cultural project he has been working on now for a decade.

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