Friday 15 December 2017

Architect of iconic Liffey bridges is sued by his native city

Samuel Beckett Bridge designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.
Samuel Beckett Bridge designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.

Fiona Govan

THE Spanish architect behind two of Dublin's most iconic bridges is facing legal action from his native city in Spain.

Santiago Calatrava's spectacular bridges, airports and museums have brought him fame around the world, and his projects include both the James Joyce and Samuel Beckett bridges spanning the Liffey.

But in his native Valencia, regional authorities have said they will sue him over the rapid deterioration of the City of Arts and Sciences, a sprawling complex that transformed the city centre when it was inaugurated eight years ago.

Last week, chunks of the mosaic facade of the opera house fell off in high winds. It was forced to cancel scheduled Christmas performances and to close until further notice.

The authorities are blaming deterioration within the complex on Mr Calatrava (62), who was paid close to €100m for a project that ran four times over budget, with a final price tag of more than €1bn.


Maximo Buch, the regional government spokesman responsible for arts and culture, announced on Friday that Valencia would take legal action against Mr Calatrava for the cost of repairs, blaming them on "construction defects".

Calls to Mr Calatrava's offices in New York and Zurich were not answered.

It is not the first time the architect has faced such action over faulty design. In the northern city of Oviedo, Mr Calatrava and his team had to pay €3.3m to settle a dispute over a conference centre he designed after it suffered a structural collapse. In the Alava wine-growing region, Mr Calatrava is being sued over the persistent leaking roof of the spectacular Bodega Ysios that he designed 12 years ago for the wine producers Domecq.

But Mr Calatrava has cited his work in Ireland as an example of client satisfaction, with repeated projects being commissioned. His second Liffey crossing, the harp-shaped Samuel Beckett bridge, opened in December 2009 and cost €60m. Mr Calatrava was also behind the James Joyce Bridge, which opened close to Heuston Station in 2003.

Irish Independent

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