When you visit Bilbao, you’ll learn that bringing in great artists and architecture doesn’t come without cost or controversy. You have Santiago Calatrava, Frank Gehry and Philippe Starck making headlines for their head-turning designs.
Adding to that group is Japanese architect Arata Isozaki and his design for the residential Isozaki Atea. He’s best known in America for his designs for the MOCA in Los Angeles and Disney’s offices in Orlando. He’s also been highly critical of the designs for Tokyo’s 2020 Olympic stadium.
First thing you’ll notice that it’s right at the base of Calatrava’s Zubizuri Bridge. With the two residential towers, he meant for them to welcome people to the city of Bilbao. The costly controversy was how to connect two different constructions.
The result was Isozaki constructing a recreation of Rome’s Spanish Steps. Although, Isozaki used dark grey granite, classing with the white steel of the bridge. This didn’t sit well with Calatrava and a battle set forth in Bilbao’s city council on ownership of the connection. In the end, Bilbao city council sided with Isozaki.
You would have had to tell me that the connection was a recreation of the Spanish Steps. There weren’t people sitting on the steps and nobody was bothering about buying wilted flowers. In any event, it’s a big grey structure of modernity, and I’m sure the rents are insane.