There is something about the architectural designs of Santiago Calatrava that sets his work apart from other architects of his time. Calatrava adds to his architectural designs the power of engineering. After years of study in architecture and engineering, he can bring large structures to existence that could not be created without his strong background in engineering.
It is suggested that, as Frank Lloyd Wright was the top architect of the first half of the 20th century and Frank Gehry is the exemplar of the second half of the 20th century, Santiago Calatrava will be the top architect of the first half of the 21st century.
Calatrava was born on July 28, 1951 in Valencia, Spain. At age 8 he began to draw and paint in the Arts and Crafts School and at 13 he was an exchange student in France. Returning to Valencia, he entered the Escuela Tecnica Superior de Arquitectura, where he graduated and attended a post-graduate degree in Urban Planning.
Calatrava decided to continue his studies in engineering. Then in 1975, he entered the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, receiving his Ph.D. in 1979. Having completed his studies, he worked with small engineering projects and began to participate in competitions. In 1983 he won his first competition: Stadelhofen Railway Station in Zurich, where he had set his office. A year later, his first bridge project, starting the worldwide recognition of his name attached to such construction.
In 1989 he established his second office in Paris, and the third in Valencia in 1991. With a knowledge of modern engineering and its technologies, he can make his structures unique examples of 21st century design. His design for Orient Station (above right) in Lisbon, Portugal is just one example of his designs that seem to epitomize the 21st century.