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 22 May 2015. <>
  • That guy

    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.

  • Perotin

    she’s almost true. modernism is ugly: everybody knows it except the architects.

    • ant

      architecture doesnt have to be pretty or beautiful as those are subjective concepts. i needs to be functional.

      • anteater

        Yeah, you’re certainly right,
        Like barracks in Auschwitz for instance?

      • Perotin

        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.

  • Darren Chang

    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” :)

  • C.P.T.L.

    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?

    • Stephanie

      Well said, but you totally didn’t catch that she (the president) is a woman.


    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.

  • Virginia Ar

    if that’s crime then lock me for life!!

  • JuanMa

    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.

  • Chris Hocking

    The majority of architects should be drowned at birth!

  • Ivan Tosic

    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?

    • joe

      if any citizen used those words against her they would be lined up against a wall and shot to death

    • Case

      Art is not to be understood… that is her problem.

  • elliot james

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

  • Generalissimo

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

  • Oqd

    El ojo por ojo, el código de Hammurabi, la ley del talión, la ley de las XII tablas.

  • EspaçoTempo

    Devemos agradecer que existam arquitetos! Já pensaram o mundo projetado por engenheiros?

  • Doug C.

    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?

  • aoj WNY

    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!

  • Walt

    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.

  • Luis

    No wonder – she comes from a conservative party founded by a minister in Franco’s dictatorship. She’s also the daughter of Spanish nobility, which accounts for the elitist fascistic comments.

  • Kyle

    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

  • Shay


  • Katsudon

    She probably attend the same secret conspiracy meetings with the Prince of Wales. The last one held was titled “In pastiche we trust”

  • jose

    She´s a fascist.

  • Joseph Seitzinger

    Shes blind, the building is beautiful. It is most likely build out of stone that came from the local land, which as architects we should be trying to accomplish. Start designing buildings with green roofs, water collections, driveways that are gravel instead on asphalt and could potentially be there own electric company. CRADLE TO CRADLE GUYS not cradle to grave. The next time you sit down to draw up a proposal for a building design, design that building to help the environment instead of hindering it.

  • Hallo Stranger

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

  • JuanMa

    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 …

  • green architects

    She said it. She meant it. End of story.

  • Berlusconi

    These words deserve her direct resignation. Her political career lies on the anti-democratic side. In 2003 the left wing parties were going to govern Madrid but she managed to buy two polititians (turncoats) so that the elections had to be repeated until she won the presidency. Besides, her political reputation is stained with corruption: She’s the Spanish Berlusconi.

  • Miguel

    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”…

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  • Tom Peeters

    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!!

  • Barry O’Sullivan

    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.