Santiago Calatrava

turning torsoSantiago Calatrava is a well-known award-winning Spanish architect, structural engineer and sculptor. Calatrava was known for his highly creative architectural structures that seem to merge both art and engineering design. Broad appeal to his creative architectural designs has led to making structures not only in Spain but also all over the world.

Early Education

Calatrava was born on July 28, 1951 in Benimamet, a small town now part of Valencia, Spain. He learned the craft first at the age of eight at the Arts and Crafts School where he first got formal instruction in drawing and in painting. After graduating, he then went on to enroll at the Escuela Technica Superior de Arquitectura where he earned a degree in Architecture. In 1975, Calatrava then decided to study at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, Switzerland where he took up post-graduate studies in civil engineering.


After receiving his Ph.D. in 1979 at ETH, Calatrava then went on take on small engineering commission such as designing a roof for a library or a balcony for a home. At the same time, Calatrava also started to enter into design competitions as a means to establish himself and secure larger commissions. He won his first design competition in 1983 with the proposal for the design and construction of Stadelhofen Railway Station in Zurich. Calatrava eventually established his head office in the Swiss city.

Calatrava’s early career initially focused on designing bridges as well as railway stations. But in 1991, a project consisting of building the Montjuic Communications Tower in Barcelona, Spain located at the heart of the site for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics got him some considerable attention that landed him a wider range of other commissions. In 2001, he designed and completed his first building on US soil, The Quadracci Pavilion of the Milwaukee Art Museum.

Calatrava then went on to design high rises, his very first of which was the innovative 54-storey twisting tower in Malmo, Sweden now more famously known as the Turning Torso. For his unique and highly innovative designs, Calatrava was given various accolades all over the world in recognition for his design achievements. He also has currently received 13 honorary doctorates in recognition for his work.

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