December 2, 2004
Athens Olympic Sports Complex
Santiago Calatrava, FAIA, known for designs
that stretch the boundaries of engineering, has been selected
as the 61st recipient of the AIA Gold Medal.
The architect, born in Valencia, Spain and now based in
Zurich, Switzerland, has long been designing simple and graceful,
yet highly sculptural forms, usually dominated by steel and
concrete. The designs, often involving a complicated interplay
between design and structure, might well not be possible without
the architect's background as an engineer: Calatrava has a
PhD in engineering from the Federal Institute of Technology
in Zurich. His visibility reached its zenith this year with
the commission to design a wing-like Transit Hub at the World
Trade Center, and with the completion of his Olympic Sports
Complex in Athens, Greece which included the glass and steel
Olympic Stadium roof, the Olympic Velodrome, and the master
plan for the sports complex.
Some of Calatrava’s other well-known works include
the much-ballyhooed Milwaukee Museum of Art expansion, a group
of refined, cable-stayed bridges in California and the Netherlands,
a twisting skyscraper in Sweden, major rail stations throughout
Europe, and a collection of cultural buildings nearing completion
in Valencia, Spain called the City of Arts and Sciences. He
is also designing a skyscraper near the South Street Seaport
in Lower Manhattan.
Calatrava's name is arguably the most-mentioned in architecture
outside Frank Gehry's, and his string of awards litters countries
around the world. This includes the Spanish Gold Medal for
Merit in the Fine Arts, the Gold Medal of Architecture of
L’Academie d’Architecture in Paris, the Sir Misha
Black Medal, awarded by the Royal College of Art in London,
and the Leonarda da Vinci Medal in Florence, Italy.
The architect could not yet be reached for comment, but
he expressed his pleasure to AIA President Eugene C. Hopkins,
FAIA in his not-quite-perfect English: “Wow! Thank you!
I feel very honored! I will try to be a the level of this
honor for the rest of my career and honor you with my work.”
Record will update
this story, and soon provide information on upcoming AIA awards.