Each of the last three cities I have lived in have shared one common trait: Calatrava built bridges.
Santiago Calatrava is one of the world’s top architects. His work has won him many prestigious awards, acknowledging his place as a world-class designer of beautiful and functional structures.
The Valencian architect’s designs are featured in many of the world’s greatest cities. His bridges and buildings stand like modern works of art – which they are – creating, changing, and beautifying the cityscape all at once.
There was much uproar in Calgary over Calatrava’s Peace Bridge, and although I can understand the fiscal concerns over it, I can not understand the argument that some people hold: that it’s not beautiful.
For me, there are two pieces of world-class architecture in my home city. One, The Bow, which is the tallest building in Canada outside of Toronto at 58 stories and 236m. The Bow is an incredible piece of modern design created by internationally renowned architect Norman Foster.
The second piece of world-class architecture being the Peace Bridge by Calatrava.
The futuristic design, created with bright red structural beams, looks like a futuristic portal more so than a utilitarian crossing of the Bow River.
And this is exactly what Calatrava does so well: functionally built art.
I remember seeing Calatrava’s Puente de la Mujer bridge in Buenos Aires for the first time and thinking what a beautiful structure it was. I didn’t realize it was a Calatrava until going home and researching the structure a little further. When I found out that it was the same architect that was building (it was still under construction at the time) the Peace Bridge in Calgary, I was very proud of my city.
The Puente de la Mujer (Bridge of the Woman) is one of Buenos Aires’ top tourist attractions – this being the case in the most visited city in South America, a city full of things to see and do. Any day of the week there are tourists taking photo of this great structure.
The next major city I lived in was Seville in Spain, and once again I found myself in a city lucky enough to have a Calatrava crossing a body of its water.
The Puente del Alamillo crosses the historic Guadalquivir River. Similar in design to the Puente de la Mujer in Buenos Aires, but to a much greater scale. Its mast reaches to 140m, soaring over the gently flowing river below. It was built in celebration of Expo 92, and stands as a legacy to this event to this day.
In Seville, Europe’s third largest historical centre and a rally point for many of Colombus’s expeditions, Calatrava’s bridge stands out as arguably the best piece of modern architecture.
Part of the reason I wrote this piece is in order to showcase to Calgary the importance of the Peace Bridge. The Peace Bridge is something which Calgarians should be proud to have in their city. The money’s spent. Now, let’s move forward and embrace this incredibly beautiful example of modern architecture by one of the world’s top architects.
To be a world-class city, a city needs to have world-class architecture. Buenos Aires and Seville are truly world-class destinations. I say to all those 1.3 million Calgarians out there, that we now have world-class architecture in our city.