Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Santiago Calatrava - Architect for the 21st Century

I can't help but look at Santiago Calatrava's work and think that this is what the 21st century will look like. Computer modelling and new construction techniques are being used to full advantage by Calatrava in creating designs that reflect our time.

Frank Gehry knocked our socks off as the 20th century was coming to an end and Frank Lloyd Wright had done the same at the beginning of that century. For the beginning of the 21st century it seems that Calatrava is designing the most significant new structural forms in the world.

Look at these pictures of Calatrava's designs for a bridge in Jerusalem (left and right). They are marvels of design and engineering. They are structures that are at home in and evoke the sky and the sea as much as the land.

Like Gehry's work, Calatrava's designs are so startlingly unique that they can't be copied directly because anything done in that style will always be seen as a Calatrava rip-off. The spirit of lightness, whiteness, elegance, curvilinear lines and bird-like forms will surely inspire a new generation of architects however.

Students should be exposed to photos, drawings, models, replicas or anything you can find for them to study and marvel at the works of great contemporary designers like Wright, Gehry, and Calatrava. The next generation needs to see these groundbreaking designs as inspiration and a challenge to try to do something of that grace and beauty.

Click on the heading above to see a video of Calatrava talking about his designs.

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