Bilbao’s transformation from a grimy industrial town to a gleaming modern metropolis is due to many factors. One of them is the influx of “Starchitects” that have come to the city to leave their mark.
Santiago Calatrava is the man who has caused the most controversy. Whether it be the actual design or the fact that his projects come over-budget and over-deadline. Case in point is his current high-profile project, the World Trade Center Transportation Hub. My favorite headline from Fast Company: Santiago Calatrava: The World’s Most Hated Architect?
His most visible project is the Zubizuri or White Bridge that spans the Nervion River. The white curved arches resembles a fish bone, so creates the images of a fish jumping through the water.
When it opened in 1997, the big problem that arose was that people were slipping on the glass flour. Sure, it was cool that you could look straight down into the water, it’s another when your failing face or ass first on it.The NY Times called it the “”The Bridge of Broken Legs.”
As you might have heard of Bilbao, it rains fairly often. Thus, the solution was to put in a carpet to prevent you from massive head trauma and injury. That was nice of them.
In the day, the bridge makes for a lively walk among the morning joggers. When you’re in Bilbao, you realize they are big on public spaces, which creates active people. You need it with such wonderful food around.
At night, it is, dare I say, romantic. With the illumination, it makes the bridge feel like a living entity.
My hotel was at the base of the bridge, so it was a practical for my needs. So if you’re going to make something that’s going to be used by thousands a day, might as well make it amazing. So Santiago Calatrava is worth the hassle and the cost.