Top 10 Architects: Zaha Hadid, Santiago Calatrava, Tadao Ando, Cesar Pelli and more

Santiago Calatrava
Text by Ayesha Khan


Following in the footsteps of the likes of Gaudi, Dali, and Picasso, Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava harbors the creative spirit of a true artist. His buildings come alive with a vibrancy and dynamism that comes from the dichotomy between engineering and sculpture. Born and raised in Valencia (where he would later create one of his most iconic buildings, La Ciudad de las Artes y de las Ciencias), Calatrava trained in the arts and went on to obtain a doctorate in civil engineering. It was his early work with bridges, most notably the Puente del Alamillo in Seville, Spain, that put him on the international map as a truly gifted architect. But Calatrava will always be the first to point out that no architect is successful without a true understanding of art. “I like to think of an architect as an artist. There is certainly a renaissance of architecture towards art. Architecture is not only something that we can enjoy, but it’s also a heritage that we are delivering to the next generation, as witnesses to our epoch,” he says. Operating out of Paris, Zurich, New York, and his native city of Valencia, Calatrava is, at one time, working on a host of international projects from Liège, Belgium, to Chicago and New York. “The Ground Zero [World Trade Center Transportation Hub] project is very important, and I think it’s a prudent time to do such enormous work in 10 years,” he says. The transportation hub will house 14 subway lines, a massive pedestrian link to the World Financial Center and Hudson River Ferries, and is expected to accommodate 250,000 visitors daily. “It’s a challenging project because it’s an enormous complex, and it’s technically very challenging,” he adds. He feels the Chicago Spire project is “an important achievement for the city of Chicago and its whole skyline.” When completed, the Chicago Spire will project from Chicago’s lakeside skyline at a stunning 150 floors, making it one of the world’s tallest freestanding buildings.