Praised for his masterful blends of architecture and engineering, yet criticized for rarely sticking to a budget, Valencia-native Santiago Calatrava is no stranger to controversy. His latest project making headlines is the largest landmark in Valencia and the second most-visited cultural complex in Spain: the City of Arts and Sciences.
More on the controversy after the break.
Located in a region riddled with half-finished buildings, debt and corruption - as described by NPR - the €1.2 billion cultural complex is being lambasted for spiraling uncontrollably from its original €300 million cost estimation. Defending against allegations that the hefty price tag contributed to the Spanish city’s economic distress, Calatrava argued in a RIBA interview last night that the 20-year project was responsible for only a small portion of the city’s budget, coming in at about €60 million a year.
Calatrava added that the City of Arts and Sciences regenerated a run-down portion of land, between the city center and the Mediterranean coastline, and created a cultural destination that “put Valencia on the map.”
“It went over five different governors and nobody questioned the project,” he said. “I am sure the people are happy.
Although the ‘City’ is a prized possession among many residents, some are beginning to question the price of upkeep as well. According to El Mundo the 2005 El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia laminated steel shell facade is peeling. A costly and undesirable situation for such a young building.