University of South Florida (USA)


Ambitious plan to build a campus for the Polytechnic University of South Florida. Problem: there was only enough money to complete one building…

Changes were made and Calatrava´s share reduced to one central building that is on schedule and set to open this year without any cost overrun.

The following are crude notes and links I have gathered during my research. The information may be in various languages and is being updated during the research process until a full article is written.

The $100 million project here, however, has gone smoothly, according to those involved in it.

“We’ve had only a positive experience with Santiago,” said contractor Pete Karamitsanis, president of Lighthouse Advisors Inc. “We haven’t had any cost overruns, and our project is on schedule.”

The first thing he said when we met on the construction site was, “This project is both buildable and affordable and shows that a building like this can be done without controversy. We’re on time and on budget.”

That means that the building will be mostly finished in June, faculty will move in July and students arrive in August for the university’s first term.

Calatrava´s wife has written an angry letter to a politician who´s critical about the choice for Calatrava who is too expensive an artist:

“He’s been over budget on every project he’s ever done,” Temple said. “I don’t see where he’s even done a college campus.”

In her letter Miss Calatrava listed the campuses her husband has designed and planned according to her: Maastricht University in Maastricht, Holland (in reality this was abandoned because too much over budget); Universita degli Studi di Roma — Tor Vergata, in Rome (campus unsure but sports project abandoned); Yuan Ze University in Taoyuan, Taiwan (only planned); and Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias in Valencia, Spain (waaaaay over budget and not exactly a campus).

Strangely enough no journalists have caught on to the dubious claims made by the architects wife; her examples seem to prove the exact point her opponent Temple is making.

“It is simply not true that every building we have ever designed is over budget,” Calatrava said. And, she said, he was not dismissed from the Denver International Airport project. “We are not responsible for establishing the budget for either the USF Polytechnic campus nor the Science and Technology building,” Calatrava said. “Those budgets were established by the university. We are, however, responsible for, and contractually required to design to the established budget, which we are doing.”

“We intend to build a masterpiece by the greatest architect of this century,” he gushed.

But big visions don’t come cheap. Fees for Calatrava’s firm, which has designed stadiums, bridges and rail stations worldwide, is $7.44 million. The YouTube video alone cost USF $140,000.

The design of Calatrava’s signature structure at USF Poly, the Science and Technology building, is still being tweaked. It won’t be unveiled to the public until late this year, perhaps during a November fundraiser on the site.

But it is already 36 percent bigger than originally planned. And while school officials say the cost will be less than comparable facilities on other campuses, statewide data suggest otherwise.

In all, USF Poly officials estimate it will take $90 million to $100 million to build the initial structure and prepare the site for future construction. And already there’s a budget shortfall, the head of construction acknowledged last week.

There is enough money for the first building, but not enough to complete the campus infrastructure, as had been hoped.

The designed building´s roof can open and close. Similar ideas have been Calatrava desasters before: Agora (Valencia) wings are wasting away on a near wasteland, never placed on the unfinished, leaking building. WTC transport hub (New York): moving parts were removed from design because of the cost (and uselessness). Obelisc (Madrid), moving spire that is never set into motion because of the enormous maintenance costs.





In theory its a brilliant idea to have a roof that opens to the sky like a … (fill in your favourite symbolism on the dots, everything goes). It´s just a pity that in theory practice and theory are the same but in practice they are not…


Trinity Bridges – Dallas (USA)


Three bridges across the Trinity River designed by Calatrava in Dallas (USA).

Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge (opened 2012)

Margaret McDermott Bridge (2014 now rescheduled to 2017)

No data on third bridge

The following are crude notes and links I have gathered during my research. The information may be in various languages and is being updated during the research process until a full article is written. 


$798 million – Total cost of the Horseshoe project to reconstruct the Interstate 30 and Interstate 35 bridges over the Trinity River, including the Santiago Calatrava-designed bicycle and pedestrian bridges alongside I-30.

$114.9 million – Cost of the Santiago Calatrava-designed bicycle and pedestrian bridges ($102.9 million) and frontage roads ($12 million).

$74 million – Original planned cost for construction of Calatrava bridges.

$91.3 million – Federal funds available to cover cost of Calatrava bridges and frontage roads.

$11.6 million – Regional Transportation Council Funds for Calatrava Bridges and frontage roads

$12 million – Funding gap expected to be covered through $5 million Trinity Trust Foundation gift, money from city’s public arts fund and through cost-cutting

Issue: the state of Texas wants the three bridges for their functionality and to replace old decaying roads. The city of Dallas has its mind set on signature bridges to give this part of the town a different look. The city however does not have the money for this.

The Margaret McDermott Bridge, the second signature bridge, was originally scheduled to begin construction in 2011 with a completion date of 2014. However, as of December 2011, this bridge is now funded within the Project Pegasus initiative with construction contracts to be awarded in mid-2012; the new plan will feature ‘toned-down’ elements of its original arch design. Calatrava is still scheduled to perform design work.

city of dallas to decide on mcdermott bridge: does it want the 114 million version of a 74 million version that is less fancy but has the same functionality. the original plan by calatrava was even more expensive, including motorized traffic as well as pedestrians and cyclists. the current plan has been reduced to only pedestrians and cyclists.

The current $114 million I-30 plan was reduced to just hike and bike bridges along side a standard state roadway because the original Calatrava design was far more than the city could afford.

Griggs said the scaled down plan is still around $40 million more than it was to have been.

The cost overruns this early in the process are outrageous. These bridges can be very expensive when they’re designed by Santiago Calatrava and we don’t want these to be blank check,” Griggs said.

the city council decided to go through with the 144 million usd version of the project:

The rest of the City Council voted in favor of a plan to close the $12 million gap by accepting a $5 million contribution from the Trinity Trust, transferring several million from other city bond funds and seeking “value engineering” savings from Calatrava and the contractor.

– the city council in its decision actually counts on calatrava to reduce costs. That would be a first in Calatrava history

Bridges look identical to Reggio Emilia bridges in Italy

Chicago Spire – Chicago (USA)


Financial issues paralyzed construction of this modest 610m (2000ft) skyscraper leaving a huge hole in the ground. When building started the architect Santiago Calatrava´s wife stated people would forget about the tower´s real name as they would be calling it the “Calatrava Tower.” So far it is the “Calatrava Pit” at best…

The following are crude notes and links I have gathered during my research. The information may be in various languages and is being updated during the research process until a full article is written.

The Chicago Spire was a supertall skyscraper project in ChicagoIllinois that was abandoned in 2008 with only its foundation work completed. The construction was halted after several years of on-going financing challenges


Size matters


Calatrava´s models remind me of the movie This is Spinal Tap:


“Forget this! Fuck the napkin!” Calatrava is known to draw projects on napkins during diners with politician friends.

“There was a Stonehenge model on the stage that was in danger of being crushed… by a dwarf”

No perdáis de vista a su mujer. En la inauguración de una torre de una compañía en Chicago, su señora le espetó al presidente: “olvídese del nombre de su empresa, esta torre será conocida como la Torre Calatrava”. Hay que ser engreída.

Fordham Spire

Santiago Calatrava to Chicago Spire Developer: “You owe me MONEY!!”.  By the fall of 2008, it was all beginning to unravel, with liens being placed against the project, including one for $11.3 milion from Calatrava.  One reader suggests making Calatrava’s images into posters.

Somehow, the similarity between Santiago Calatrava and Bert Gordon has never struck me before, but Crain’s Chicago Business is reporting  ( )

this afternoon that the Spanish architect has gone on strike. Claiming he hasn’t been getting paid, he’s stopping working on the Chicago Spire, and placed a $11.3 lien against Garrett Kelleher’s Shelbourne Development, with Perkins+Will filing another lien for $4.85 million. Read the full story here.

WTC Transport Hub – New York (USA)

The following are crude notes and links I have gathered during my research. The information may be in various languages and is being updated during the research process until a full article is written. 

Begrootte kosten: 2 miljard USD

Kosten: 4 miljard dollar

De bouw van dit project zou 4 jaar duren, uiteindelijk werden het er 10. En het gebouw is nog steeds niet af. Geplande opening: eind 2015.

Kritiek op zijn project in New York is anders dan de kritiek die hij in Spanjke krijgt: in Spanje wordt calatrava enkel bekritiseerd vanwege zijn hoge kosten en kostenoverschreidingen. Deze keer gaat de kritiek echter over zijn ontwerp zelf: dat is namelijk onpraktisch.

a crítica más común y generalizada a la obra de Calatrava fue recogida por el diario estadounidense The New York Times en 2009.

In tegenstelling tot Spanje vond men het in de VS wel een probleem dat Calatrava zijn budget overschreed. Uiteindelijk werd het project in het geheim uitgewerkt door de Port Authority of New York and New Jersey om zo verdere publieke inmenging en opschudding te voorkomen.

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.

In a traditional vaulted roof the two sides press in toward the central spine, which helps support them. Mr. Calatrava’s mechanical roof would open along this spine — with its wings moving up and down — and when it did, the entire structure would seem to be defying gravity.

In eerste instantie was hnet de bedoeling dat het dak zou openen wanneer de weersomstandigheden dit zouden toelaten. Inmiddels is dat streven bijgesteld en is de bedoeling dat het dak elk jaar op 11 september geopend wordt naar de blauwe lucht als eerbetoon aan de geniale architect Calatrava, correctie: als eerbetoon aan de slachtoffers van de aanslagen op het World Tade Center in 2011.

Probleem is vooral dat het ontwerp niet functioneel is: Calatrava wil een grote hal maken, terwijl die hal voor het station volkomen overbodig is. In een tweede versie van het ontwerp probeerde Calatrava toch enig nut te geven aan zijn hal door er ruimte voor winkelgalerijen in te maken. Hij schrapte de directe in en uitgang van van de perrons van de PATH treinen naar de straat, in plaats daarvan moeten reizigers eerst de grote hal in en langs een groot aantal winkels voordat ze bij de uitgang komen.