Ask any person involved in the construction of Santiago Calatrava's World Trade Center Transportation Hub, and they will probably admit that the world's most expensive train station has not been a PR success. In fact things have gotten so bad that a recent article by Andrew Rice for New York Magazine describes the gradual opening of the building later this year as coming "at long last and great cost, to both the government and his reputation," adding that "a decade ago, Calatrava would have made any short list of the world’s most esteemed architects. Today, many within the profession are aghast at what they see as his irresponsibility."
But, unlike much of the press coverage that has greeted Calatrava in recent years, the New York Magazine article is much more forgiving, taking the time to investigate the twists and turns of the project's controversial 12-year history and offering the architect the opportunity to give his side of the story. Read on after the break for a breakdown of six takeaways from the article.
He doesn't think much of the negative press that has come his way:
"'It’s bullshit,' Calatrava said bitterly. He blamed his problems back home on Spanish politics, and when it comes to New York, he said, he delivered what he promised."
But he expects to overcome this bad press when construction is complete:
"Calatrava expects the building — and its architect — to be vindicated once the public is able to experience it in full."
Calatrava's clients knew of the risks involved in taking on his design:
"As early as 2005, a federal risk assessment noted that 'delays have been experienced on other Calatrava projects' and warned of potential overruns on account of the 'complex and unique' design."
Despite this, things between Calatrava and the Port Authority haven't been so rosy:
"Calatrava’s relationship with his client was strained. (A Port Authority spokeswoman refused to authorize a photograph of the architect inside his own building.)"
But for all the criticisms of spiraling costs, it was never Calatrava's responsibility to monitor spending:
"'It is very difficult,' he said. 'I have never estimated anything in this project, because there was a whole team, maybe 25 people, working the whole time on cost estimation and cost control. But I kept looking at those fellows and telling them this is like geology: You only know what you have under your feet when you excavate.'"
After everything, though, other architects involved in the World Trade Center site still speak highly of the design:
"Craig Dykers, whose architecture firm Snøhetta designed the adjacent 9/11 Memorial Museum Pavilion, says the hub will 'open the site in a way that people don’t truly comprehend.'"
"'Look, it’s not a cheap building,' says Libeskind, who remains a supporter. 'In olden times, civic buildings were very valued. But we live in a different era.' Someday, Libeskind thinks, people will revel in Calatrava’s creation and the controversies will be forgotten."
Find out what else Calatrava had to say about his World Trade Center Transportation Hub at New York Magazine, here.