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Calatrava’s Reputation in Question in Europe
Several of the famed architect’s buildings have incurred significant incidental costs.

Milwaukee Art Museum image via Shutterstock. 

In Milwaukee, the mere utterance of the name Santiago Calatrava evokes feelings of pride and sophistication. Images of the Art Museum’s white wings stretched wide over Lake Michigan immediately enter the mind. We lay exclusive Midwest claim to the name; “Calatrava” is synonymous with our art museum in our town.

In Europe, however, Calatrava is starting to be seen as a risky, unrealistic dreamer whose designs continually go over budget. The New York Times detailed a series of his projects that, due to structural flaws and unclear design plans, have incurred significant incidental costs. The report focuses on a huge fine arts center in Valencia, which has cost almost three times than expected. Other complaints of note include a faulty footbridge in Bilbao, a leaky winery in northern Spain, and a collapsing conference center in Oviedo.

But the complaints extend beyond Spain as well; the article also mentions a planned bridge in the Netherlands that has doubled in cost, and the New York City PATH train station near the World Trade Center whose cost has doubled - by $2 billion.  Whether these issues forecast a grim future for our own museum remains to be seen. Some will recall that the Milwaukee Art Museum addition ended up costing around $125 million, almost four times more than originally expected. It has already required some repair, too.

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POSTED 1/12/2015