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Calatrava July 13, 2015

Posted by anagasto in art, building.
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In architecture as in sculpture everything depends on the photo. Buildings have to look good from every angle, even inside and from above.

And unlike sculptures, most buildings have to meet complex functional requirements.

For this “tecno-kitsch” see William J. R. Curtis  in Spanish at http://ccaa.elpais.com/ccaa/2012/10/06/valencia/1349544025_637785.html

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This is the transit terminal at Ground Zero. In the background there are several high rise constructs standing around like the Stonehenge megaliths.

Skyscrapers have a way of looking much the same everywhere. And they are mostly installed one beside the other with little space between them.

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calatrava ground zero hub

The hub is different. Seen from one side it looks like a dolphin suggesting water and light, seen from the other it is a bird, a dove that is about to spread its large wings of white silk:

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Calatrava said he was thinking of a bird being released by a child’s hand. It is however a very expensive bird, and its belly is stuck in the ground.  There is no child’s hand.

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…  calatrava hub NY

Bad luck: the metaphor that was supposed to sell the design just won’t stick.
Remember that Spanish painter Antoni Tápies* * * who explained his whatchamecallit by sticking some Heidegger text to it. —  Maybe Don Santiago got carried away by the image of the thing and ended up doing a sculpture rather than a transport hub. —

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Below are  more Calatrava designs. They are not related to Ground Zero, but the photos show how he looks for beauty in mathematics.

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One is from Milwaukee university, the other is a little bridge called “El Alamillo” in Seville, Spain, and the third one is in Israel.

Calatrava said that the Seville bridge and another one at Redding, California are the ones  that he likes best: http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2006/11/13/8393122/index.htm

See about the engineering at http://www.b-t.com/projects/turtle.htm. The steel pylon acts as a sundial projecting its shadow onto the circular plaza at the tower base. The bridge carries a translucent glass deck.

And the photographer knew his métier.

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This photo is from http://tinyurl.com/ycdmawg which could not be linked directly to the picture.

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Photographed by brian.norwood and published at Flickr under a CC Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic BY-NC-SA 2.0) license.
There is that problem again.

Maybe the beauty of the math curves had better be kept functional, the way it is in those two little bridges. In a more independent position the curves look oppressive because they represent the laws of physics, of matter, not human laws.

(¿Para qué llamar caminos

a los surcos del azar?… Machado)

Besides, what looks pretty as a small model might look awful once it is enlarged 100 times or more. — What are these things on the photo up in the air ? One of them is like some  lady’s feather in her hat…

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but the other one?  Something that people would steal if it were not tied down really well?

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At any rate, some bridges are difficult or dangerous to build, but compared to a train station or an airport they are all very simple as to function which anyone can determine on a map with just 1 pencil line.  But a transport hub! Imagine! Like some 77 bridges bridging a bridge.

So one is surprised to find that the hub is all feathers on a hat. Form did not follow function there, but what did it do in Tenerife when left on its own?

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model world trade center

It could also be that now, as  the mood changes because of the crisis, those buildings will start to look  like things of long ago.

Some reports say that anyway these skyscrapers won’t be ready for another 20 or 30 years. …. because according to http://tinyurl.com/knfl43 there is at present no demand for so much office space.

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calatrava valls

The architect of the hub, Dr. Santiago Calatrava Valls,  was born in 1951 and runs offices in Zurich, Paris and Valencia.

“Calatrava Valls” are his  surnames. Hispanics mostly have two surnames, one their father’s and one their mother’s.

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Added 2011

The papers say that Calatrava has just set up something in Madrid, next to the KIO towers.

It is a present from a bank — Caja Madrid — to the city of Madrid. It is a  needle made of gold and — it sways ! Judged by the photo, it seems simple and elegant, and they say it sways like reed.

In Spain Calatrava is best known for his work in Valencia:

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But isn’t it a bit spooky? Maybe on a sunny day it looks more friendly.

These last 3 photos are by courtesy of ghD.

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The Critics

His structural pyrotechnics look as dazzling as ever. Even so, Mr. Calatrava remains unable to overcome the project’s fatal flaw: the striking incongruity between the extravagance of the architecture and the limited purpose it serves. The result is a monument to the creative ego that celebrates Mr. Calatrava’s engineering prowess but little else. And it reinforces the likelihood that one day, decades from now, when the site is finally completed, it will stand as a testament to our inability to put self-interests aside in the face of one of America’s greatest tragedies.

Mr. Ouroussoff wrote that the problems “are amplified by Mr. Calatrava’s seeming refusal to disturb the sculptural purity of his creation. Some have already pointed out that only two small entries, at each end of the dome, connect the main plaza to the hall.

From the NYT

http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/reference/timestopics/people/c/santiago_calatrava/index.html

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Added Summer 2012

Calatrava railway station in Lucerne

Nice. That is where he excels. But just like many people who are technologically gifted, he would like to be an artist and free. In Spain, anyway, an artist is still somebody. As far as I know, in the US the term by now means almost nothing.

My little online dictionarydefines an artist as “A person whose creative work shows sensitivity and imagination” — i.e.±  a platitude.

Added Summer 2015

I happened to see that now Calatrava is exhibiting at the Vatican (???) and there is the “Infinite Spirit” in that show.

Geez! I hope I am wrong, but it does sound like the Pudels Kern, as Goethe said of Mephistopheles hiding in a black poodle.

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Comments»

1. Calatrava Ground Zero NYC « Roxi Style - February 23, 2011

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