We want a Calatrava

His First London Project


Santiago Calatrava has been having a chain of anni horribiles in which he has had to face problems like the degradation of some of his icons (namely the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia in Valencia and the Adán Martín Auditorium in the Canarian island of Tenerife), huge indemnizations for the partial collapse of others (such as his project in Oviedo), and the very damaging picture of his approach to the profession that is gleaned from a book like Queríamos un Calatrava (We Wanted a Calatrava), by Llàtzer Moix. Notwithstanding this avalanche of very bad press, the Valencian continues to be approached by large private companies all over the world, which still see him as the ‘star’ with the clout to put their businesses on the map. A case in point is Knight Dragon, which recently announced – with a great deal of media hype – that Calatrava has landed the commission for what is, with a total budget of 1 billion pounds, the most important real estate project in London and the entire United Kingdom today. An immense, 130,000-square-meter mixed-use complex presenting a 30-meter-tall plinth for cultural uses and three 30-story residential towers rising from it, it is the principal part of a larger plan to redevelop Greenwich Peninsula, a new cultural zone of London. The project has been warmly received by London’s new mayor, Sadiq Khan, who has declared: “I am delighted that Santiago Calatrava has chosen London for his first major project in the UK.” Despite everything, Calatrava is still ‘choosing’ and many still ‘want a Calatrava.’

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