President of Madrid Puts Foot In Mouth, Offends Architects Everywhere

  • 06 Sep 2012
  • by
  • Architecture News
Photo via La Paseata.

Politicians caught on camera say the darndest things. Like – if you’re Esperanza Aguirre, President of Madrid – that architects “should be killed.”

The Politician was unknowingly recorded while speaking with the Mayor of Valdemaqueda, a municipality of Madrid, about their town hall. The building, known as Casa Consistorial de Valdemaqueda (1998), designed by Paredes Pedrosa, was an award-winner at the Spanish Biennale of 1999. Their conversation (translated by yours truly) went as follows:

Mayor: The town hall? Oh, that thing. Well, it’s gotten prizes, president. Architecture prizes.

Esperanza Aguirre: That’s the only positive thing that’s come from the Crisis, that that’s all over. [...] I have never seen anything uglier.

Mayor: You don’t like it?

Esperanza Aguirre: How could I like it, hidden at the end of a plaza like this!

Mayor: Well, because they’re the architects of the Community.

Esperanza Aguirre: Well, they should be killed.

Mayor: They’ve gotten awards.

Esperanza Aguirre: Mario, it’s so stupid (addressing a person next to her). Do you know why we should have the death penalty? I dislike architects because their crimes last longer than their own own lives. They die and leave us with this.

Find out what Ms. Aguirre has had to say for herself since, and take a peek at the original video footage after the break …

Casa Consistorial de Valmaqueda, by Paredes Pedrosa. The object of Esperanza Aguirre’s comment that “I have never seen anything uglier.”

Earlier this morning, Ms. Aguirre tweeted her apologies (which you can see at the end of this post), saying “I would like to apologize to the architects and all those people and institutions who could have been bothered by my  commentary.” Followed by, “I take it back, the truth is that I feel very bad for having made those regrettable commentaries, even in a private conversation.”

For those of you who speak Spanish, here’s the video, with transcript courtesy of El Huffington Post, of the overheard conversation (the incident, which occurs after another one, starts around 1:50).

YouTube Preview Image

Alcalde: “¿El ayuntamiento? Ah, esa cosa. Pues tiene premios, presidenta. Tiene premios de arquitectura.Esperanza Aguirre: ”La única ventaja de la crisis, que se acabó”.

Alcalde: ”Sí, sí, creo que se hizo con Prisma”

Esperanza Aguirre: ”Yo no he visto nada más feo”.

Alcalde: “¿No te gusta?”.

Esperanza Aguirre: ”¡Cómo me va a gustar, en lo recóndito de una plaza como esta!”.

Alcalde: ”Pues, pues esos son los arquitectos de la Comunidad”.

Esperanza Aguirre: “Ya, es que habría que matarlos”.

Alcalde: “Les dan premios”.

Esperanza Aguirre: “Mario, que es muy burro (dirigiéndose a una persona que tiene al lado) ¿Tú sabes por qué habría que poner pena de muerte? Me caen mal los arquitectos porque sus crímenes perduran más allá de su propia vida. Se ha muerto y ahí nos ha dejado esto”.

Alcalde: ”Sí, si te acercas a la Iglesia, lo que han hecho en la Iglesia…”.

Story via El Huffington Post and Plataforma Arquitectura


Cite: Quirk, Vanessa. "President of Madrid Puts Foot In Mouth, Offends Architects Everywhere" 06 Sep 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 17 Sep 2014. <>


  1. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    Yeah, that’s a huge slip for a politician. But it’s pretty obvious she wasn’t serious although she does not like that building.

  2. Thumb up Thumb down -4

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    • Thumb up Thumb down -9

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      • Thumb up Thumb down +5

        sounds like and idea of a robot. children in architectural schools are indoctrinated with modernism.. we all know it, but it is very difficult to accept it.

  3. Thumb up Thumb down +31

    Let’s take this with a sense of humor… I think she is being pretty intelligent when she says “their crimes last longer than their own own lives” :)

  4. Thumb up Thumb down +7

    Since the conversation was not meant to be public and was “unknowingly recorded,” it was necessarily of a private nature, and the man has a right to his privacy and his private opinions, and that his privacy not be violated.

    The man spoke his mind.

    Someone else put the man’s “his foot in his mouth” by airing his private remarks.

    The only extreme aspect of the conversation was use of the word “killed.”

    But then, in a private conversation between two people who both know each other as not killers, and who understand the joking context of the statement, it is only a crass comment.

    It is significant that the writer ‘writes off’ the statements as a “darndest thing” and cites an award given to the architect instead of entertaining for a single moment the meaning of the conversation.

    After all, one would imagine architects might be interested in an unvarnished opinion.

    A citizen dislikes the building; everyone has opinions, and his is neither here nor there.

    But he makes a meaningful statement about architecture.

    It is true that an offensive building offends for a very long time, something architects might keep in mind.

    How many others privately harbor the same dislike of that building, a majority?

    It is, after all, a public building, which means it belongs to the public, so one might hope it is a building a majority can at least accept, if not like it.

    Does an award cancel their dislike or turn dislike into appreciation?

    Will architects band together and be reflexively self-defensive?

    Or will they profit from a truth?

  5. Thumb up Thumb down +13

    To days ago she declared she would sue a couple of young people who wrote on a sign”Esperanza, muerete” (esperanza, die) for shorting the budget on education. I don’t want to overreact, but i don’t take it with humor. this is the comment of a fascist and should not be tolerated.

  6. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Me parece asombrosa la facilidad que tienen algunas personas de expresar públicamente sus impresiones y si no son afortunadas, pueden utilizar esa facilidad para QUEDAR BIEN pero sin alterar el comentario.

  7. Thumb up Thumb down -6

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  8. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    Although she has no taste whatsoever, as a public person, she shouldn’t use those words. Some idiot might take her seriously and think it’s a call to arms… After all… how can a politician understand art?

  9. Thumb up Thumb down +6

    I would still prefer passionate debate about architecture rather than apathy.

  10. Thumb up Thumb down +3

    Podriamos también afirmar lo mismo de los desafortunados politicos que estan (des)governando España y la restante Europa…

  11. Thumb up Thumb down -1

    I wish America could achieve the level of subtlety and quality I see from Spain. This looks like an excellent project.

    Is the hatred just based on not liking how it looks?

  12. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I agree with her in general, not that architects should be killed, but that too many, way too many, design ugly buildings today. Although this one is not that bad! There are thousands of modern buildings way worse than this one. This one has a sort of humble comeliness to it that many modern buildings do not. With the possible exception of Bilbao. any Frank Gehry building is way uglier than this one!

  13. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    Swap out “architects” with politicians with the remark made by an architect, or anyone for that matter, within the U.S. and he or she would be classified as a domestic terrorist. Freedom of speech should never be trumped by political correctness.

  14. Thumb up Thumb down -3

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  15. Thumb up Thumb down +6

    It’s sad that people are getting so offended by this. Granted her comments were a little out of line but she has a point. An architects building often lasts longer than the architect. That’s why I think it’s so important that architects are devoted to good design that will stand the test of time, and that their designs are liked by the people who are going to see it the most, not just by a panel are architecture critics

  16. Thumb up Thumb down +5


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  19. Thumb up Thumb down +4

    They don’t need to reactivate the death penalty: With such unemployment in our profession we will surely starve to death.

  20. Thumb up Thumb down -1

    Desde luego, en conversaciones privadas se escuchan cosas que incitan a la imaginación. En este caso puedo pensar que con estas declaraciones, CUANTO MÁS ESCUELAS DE ARQUITECTURA SE ABRAN EN LA COMUNIDAD DE MADRID, MAYORES OPORTUNIDADES TENDRÉ DE ACERTAR EN EL INTENTO …

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  22. Thumb up Thumb down -1

    Who elected such an ignorant!!! Not going further,
    without architects cities like Madrid wouldn’t have any cultural appeal or patrimony to attract millions of tourists!!! In my point of view is enough to impeach the “presidenta”…

  23. Thumb up Thumb down +2

    she is 100% right,…some (st)architects should be “killed” because their crimes last longer then they do…
    At least she has the balls to say it!!

  24. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    I don’t think it is beyond a politician’s thought process to see something they find offensive and decide that the required sanction is death. That’s not being facetious. Politicians deal in absolutes. But it’s her view on that specific architect converted into a group-phobia. No doubt she will have some strong views on other polarizing topics.

    In her defense, I have stood in the center of many midland UK towns & had similar thoughts.

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