It was with much enthusiasm that Denver International Airport officials announced Santiago Calatrava as the architect for the new $650 million expansion that included a hotel, public plaza, and commuter-rail station. However, Calatrava is now withdrawing himself from the project only a year later. Numerous concerns have been cited as the reason for his departure including “financial constraints, unnecessary time delays, and deep divisions” between his design team, DIA, and Parsons International Group as quoted by his wife and business manager Robertina in a letter to DIA manager Kim Day.
As with many public projects, cutbacks made their way into the equation, with the overall budget being reduced $150 million from the original in February. The 500 room signature hotel was reduced by one floor, including the scaling back of numerous design elements. Calatrava’s commuter-rail suspension bridge was also downsized from $60 million to $22 million before finally losing all funding.
Robertina Calatrava also mentions in the letter that “The project still lacks sufficient funding … it continues to set an unrealistic schedule with little or no room to develop and consolidate the design in keeping with the standards and quality of a Calatrava signature design.”
However, the expansion project is still pressing forward on schedule and on budget – albeit significantly reduced. Calatrava and DIA are parting ways amicably (Calatrava’s firm was paid $13 million for their design services), with the remainder of production being handled by architects of record Anderson Mason Dale Architects and Gensler. In a recent statement Calatrava notes that “from the beginning, we have had the project’s best interests at heart, and although we have decided to part ways, I wish DIA all the best with the South Terminal Redevelopment Program and its future success.”