Calatrava Criticized for Valencia Complex

© Flickr user FromtheNorth

Praised for his masterful blends of architecture and engineering, yet criticized for rarely sticking to a , -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. 

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, according to BDOnline. “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’s laminated steel shell facade is peeling. A costly and undesirable situation for such a young building.

El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia via El Mundo

via NPRBDOnlineEl Mundo 

Cite: Rosenfield, Karissa. "Calatrava Criticized for Valencia Complex" 30 Jan 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed 25 May 2015. <>
  • Miguel Comesaña

    Este es un icono arquitectónico en España del deslpilfarro y del cual deberíamos aprender de que a parte de que nuestra arquitectura tenga que ser bella y funcional, también debe ser económica.

  • Pingback: Calatrava Criticized for Valencia Complex | Nick Socrates Contemporary Art

  • Domantas Stukas

    I have recently completed my master thesis partly questioning the integration of Calatrava’s project (and other large urban projects of Valencia) into the local society. If anyone is interested feel free to check it out. Domantas
    issuu >> a project for valencia

  • Rebecca Cross

    We did visit Valencia a few years ago specifically to visit this glorious building. Any new construction techniques will be tested by time.

  • derek

    yikes!!! almost a billion more than the original cost estimate. He is worse than the American government xDD no wonder he hasn’t won the Pritzker prize yet.

  • Gustavo

    Yo vivo en valencia y les regalo estas “construcciones”, que ademas ser carisimas, son el origen de la ruina de nuestra ciudad, son funcionalmente desastrosas, mal construidas, no contribuyen nada urbanisticamente a la ciudad.

  • MIkespaniard

    NPR was not wrong about the description of the region. Half-finished buildings, debt and corruption. although Murcia and Andalucia fit on those terms too, and if you take the half finished buildings…..

    It’s shaming. The whole thing is that he has an account in Switzerland where he was being payed for all these projects, and there is no real way to know how much he got from it, but lets say that he is more than very rich, he has not declared taxes of most of it, and most of his building fall a part very fast, so he cuts corners, lets say that too.

    Adding to all this is that he is a big DIVA, he is known for having said geniuses like me don’t have time for paying attention to the small detail. He was referring to a museum he had designed without a single toilette in.

    Anyhow you only need to check, every single big project is always a big drama before or later. The ground 0 metro station which only goes 4 years on delay, the bridge on Venice that needed to be recalculated 6 times, it was drowning continuously and taking with it part of the streets around, the Bilbao airport, (One of his earliest and best received projects) I tell anyone who admires him to go to Bilbao and wait for a friend who is arriving flying to the city at the airport in mid february, you have to wait literally outside of the building.

    As humble and interesting is Moneo, our only Pritzker Calatrava is the contrary adding to the fact that he can’t project anything without drama. If I had to pick an Spanish architect for the Pritzker in long term I would pick Enric Ruiz Geli.