Defining a More Purposeful Architecture: A Guide to Current Architectural Trends

The current state of architectural design incorporates many contemporary ideas of what defines unique geometry. With the advent of strong computer software at the early 21st century, an expected level of experimentation has overtaken our profession and our academic realms to explore purposeful architecture through various techniques, delivering meaningful buildings that each exhibit a message of cultural relevancy.

These new movements are not distinct stylistic trends, but modes of approaching concept design. They often combine with each other, or with stylistic movements, to create complete designs. Outlined within this essay are five movements, each with varying degrees of success creating purposeful buildings: Diagramism, Neo-, Revitism, Scriptism, and Subdivisionism.

Video: Santiago Calatrava On His Design For Ground Zero’s Only Non-Secular Building

In a for the BBC Magazine, Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava talks through his designs for the new St. Nicholas Church – the only non-secular building on the 9/11 Memorial site. The building, which broke ground last year, has been described by Calatrava as a ”tiny jewel” for lower Manhattan, comprising of a white Vermont marble shrine sat beneath a translucent central cupola that is illuminated from within. The new church, of Greek Orthodox denomination, replaces a church of the same name which was destroyed during the attacks of . It is sited close to its original location on 130 Liberty Street, overlooking the National September 11 Memorial park and museum. With the building set to open in early 2016, Calatrava discusses the key conceptual ideas and references behind its unique, controversial design.

In Defense of Santiago Calatrava

Florida Polytechnic Sciencie, Innovation and Technology Campus. Image © Alan Karchmer for

In recent years, few architects have had a tougher time in the media than Santiago Calatrava. Whether it’s his repeated legal battles over leaking roofs and peeling facades, the unceremonious death of his Chicago Spire project, or the media firestorm over his New York Transportation Hub that is $2 billion over budget, Calatrava has become a poster boy for those who criticize the supposed arrogance of today’s architects. However, in an engaging article for FastCo Design, Karrie Jacobs responds to what seems to be “a concerted effort to shore up his reputation,” coming to the defense of this “unreconstructed aesthete.” Read the article in full here.

New York’s $4 Billion Train Station Takes Shape

Screenshot. Image © Bedel Saget/The New York Times

Santiago Calatrava’s head-turning World Trade Center Transportation Hub has assumed its full form, nearly a decade after its design was revealed. In light of this, the New York Times has taken a critical look at just how the winged station’s budget soared. “Its colossal avian presence may yet guarantee the hub a place in the pantheon of civic design in New York. But it cannot escape another, more ignominious distinction as one of the most expensive and most delayed train stations ever built.” The complete report, here.

Santiago Calatrava’s Chicago Spire Finally Axed

© Santiago Calatrava

Santiago Calatrava‘s much maligned design for the Chicago Spire has finally met its end, thanks to a lapsed payment deadline from the site’s developer, Grant Kelleher. The project, which would have been the tallest building in the USA, began construction in 2007 but was halted at the onset of the global financial crisis, leaving nothing more than a large hole in the ground for over six years.

Despite numerous attempts to revive the Spire, Grant Kelleher’s Shelbourne Development Group never overcame its financial troubles. Shelbourne Development Group and its partner Atlas Apartment Holdings received a court order to pay $22 million to one of their creditors, Related Midwest, who had bought $93 million worth of debt from the project. However, the Chicago Tribune reports that within minutes of the October 31st deadline lapsing with no sign of payment, Related Midwest filed papers in a court requiring that the deeds for the property be passed to them.

Santiago Calatrava Breaks Ground on Church at 9/11 Memorial Site

©

Construction has begun on Santiago Calatrava’s Saint Nicholas National Shrine on the World Trade Center site in . A “tiny jewel” for lower Manhattan, as referred by Calatrava, the white Vermont marble shrine will be based around a translucent central Cupola that illuminates from within. 

More images and an updated construction image of Calatrava’s neighboring transportation hub, after the break.

NBBJ Creates High Tech Shading System for Buildings

Courtesy of NBBJ

International architecture firm NBBJ has created Sunbreak, a new prototype for user-controlled sunshades that will not only lower costs, but also give buildings a dynamic appearance throughout the day.

Technology currently exists for automatically regulating solar gains in buildings, but the downside to these systems is that they often lack manual controls, and one of the most common complaints heard from workers in modern office buildings is that they do not have enough control over their environment. Automatic sunshades go up or down based on the time of day but if it happens to be cloudy outside or if users want natural light in a room when the shades are down there may be nothing they can do.

Florida Polytechnic Sciencie, Innovation and Technology Campus / Santiago Calatrava

© Alan Karchmer for

Architects: Santiago Calatrava
Location: Lakeland, FL,
Architect Of Record: Alfonso Architects
Year: 2014
Photographs: Alan Karchmer for Santiago Calatrava

Spotlight: Santiago Calatrava

. Image Courtesy of http://en.wikiarquitectura.com/

Today is the 63rd birthday of world renowned architect, engineer, and artist Santiago Calatrava Valls. Calatrava is well known for his neofuturist style and his wild feats of engineering. The Milwaukee Art Museum, his first building in the United States, is famous for its shading “wings” that open and close in response to the position of the sun. His complex of buildings in his native Valencia is also a frequent pilgrimage site for architecture enthusiasts. 

Calatrava’s World Trade Center Transit Hub Fails to Impress

© Santiago Calatrava, LLC

“How can a $3.94 billion building be made to look cheap?” A small part of Santiago Calatrava’s World Trade Center Transportation Hub has been opened to the public, and the critics aren’t impressed. According to the  Times’ article by David Dunlap, the buildings “chunky fixtures” and “rough workmanship” “detract from what is meant to be breathtaking grandeur.” Read more, here.

Could a Lick of Super Strong Carbon Paint Fix Caltrava’s Palau de les Arts?

El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia

Will the peeling shell of Santiago Calatrava’s Palau de les Arts in  be saved by an innovative, new paint? Calatrava’s $455.6 million project, which surpassed its budget four times over, has sprouted many defects over the years, but none more damning than its peeling facade – a defect that spurred the city of to sue Calatrava’s office. However, Spanish paint manufacturer Graphenano has proposed an innovative solution: Graphenstone, a mixture of limestone powder and the allotrope graphene, which should just prevent further deterioration. Whether the solution could also relieve some courtroom tension, remains to be seen. Read more on Inhabitat and The Architect’s Newspaper.

VIDEO: Elegance in Motion at Calatrava’s Liège-Guillemins Railway Station in Belgium

We present you with a compelling video depicting the sublime interaction of light and space at Santiago Calatrava’s Liège-Guillemins railway station in Belgium. Inspired by Eadwards Muybridge’s 1886 short-film “Horse in Motion,” architectural photographer Yannick Wegner uses time lapse photography to uniquely portray the experience within and around this bustling building.

“Time lapse as a stylistic device offers new opportunities in acknowledging remarkable architecture,” describes Wegner. “The appearance of time through motion gives the impression of vitality and emphasizes the architecture.”

Developer Seeks to Revive Calatrava’s “Chicago Spire”

Spire. Image ©

Cloaked in financial woes, what was intended to be the tallest skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere has remained a stagnate hole in the Chicago cityscape since the height of the crisis. However, the fate of the Santiago Calatrava-designed luxury condominium may be about to change, as developer Garrett Kelleher is actively seeking court approval to reinstate the project with a $135 million investment from Atlas Apartment Holdings LLC. More on Chicago’s 2,000-foot “twisting” spire latest update here on the Chicago Tribune.   

40 Architecture Docs to Watch In 2014

Gehry’s Vertigo. Image Courtesy of Living Architectures

This time last year we published our 30 Architecture Docs to Watch in 2013 featuring a fantastic range of films telling the tales of some of the world’s greatest unsung architectural heroes. We now bring you eleven more for 2014, looking past the panoply of stars to bring you more of the best architectural documentaries which will provoke, intrigue and beguile.

World Trade Center Progress Report: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Cranes over the Transport Hub in July of 2012. Image © Mark Lennihan, AP

Slowly, and surely not lacking critique, ’s transport hub rises $2 billion over budget, ’s Freedom Tower — now, more mundanely referred to as 1WTC — is recognized as the tallest building in the western hemisphere and there is still a considerable amount of development yet to be done on the World Trade Center. Read Edwin Heathcote’s article on the Financial Times regarding the good, the bad and the ugly: ”Rebuilding the World Trade Center: A Progress Report.”

Calatrava’s “Sharq Crossing” Planned for Doha Skyline

Courtesy of

Located in , Sharq Crossing is a set of three interconnected bridges spanning almost ten kilometres in the Bay. Designed by the famed architect Santiago Calatrava, the bridge will connect the city’s cultural district in the north to Hamad International Airport and the central business district in West Bay. The bridges, which are designed to accomodate as many as 2,000 vehicles an hour per lane, are also flanked by a series of subsea tunnels to manage and direct the flow of traffic across the bay.

Santiago Calatrava: The Metamorphosis of Space

Property of Studio Calatrava ©

The Grand Opening of the Santiago Calatrava: The Metamorphosis of Space exhibition took place on Wednesday, December 4th in the monumental spaces of the Braccio di Carlo Magno. The exhibition will be open until February 20, 2014.

The exhibition, sponsored by the Vatican Museums and the Pontifical Council for Culture, and curated by Micol Forti (Curator of the Collection of Contemporary Art of the Vatican Museums), presents a collection of approximately 140 works of art to the public, showing the complex and multiform artistic productions of the famous Spanish architect and engineer.

The selected core of architectural models is accompanied by the corresponding preparatory studies, but also by watercolor paintings, which were generated by a creative inspiration completely independent from the genesis of the same projects. In addition, there is a rich anthology of sculptures, both monumental and in a more reduced size, made out of bronze, marble, alabaster, and wood.

The combination of works pertaining to different artistic codes, although closely related, directs the observer’s gaze to different levels of interpretation of the architectural volumes, and of the vision of space and shapes, typical characteristics of Calatrava’s artistic path. More after the break.

Museum Round Up: The Box is Back

Clyfford Still Museum. Image © Jeremy Bittermann

In a recent article for the Denver Post, Ray Rinaldi discusses how the box is making a comeback in U.S. museum design. Stating how architecture in the 2000’s was a lot about swoops, curves, and flying birds – see Frank Gehry and Santiago Calatrava - he points out the cool cubes of David Chipperfield and Renzo Piano. We’ve rounded up some of these boxy works just for you: the Clyfford Still Museum, the Kimbell Art Museum Expansion, The St. Louis Art Museum’s East Building, Tod Williams and Billie Tsien’s Barnes Foundation, and Shigeru Ban’s Aspen Art Museum. Each project begins to show how boxes can be strong, secure, and even sly. Check out more about the article here.