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Venice sues Spain's most 'infamous' architect

Alex Dunham · 13 Jan 2014, 14:14

Published: 13 Jan 2014 14:14 GMT+01:00

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Santiago Calatrava's work is as recognizable as it is controversial.

Specializing in grand structures with a Sydney Opera House 'air', he has as many accolades under his belt as he does court cases.

The latest Calatrava project to raise the alarm for its apparent 'shortcomings' is an €11.3 million bridge built six years ago over Venice's Grand Canal.

Calatrava's Ponte della Constituzione was already €6.7 million over budget when it was inaugurated in 2008, and has since had to undergo costly changes to make it wheelchair friendly and to prevent pedestrians from slipping whenever it rained in Venice.

On Sunday, Turin's Polytechnic University presented Venice’s Court of Accounts with a report that illustrated the alleged deficiencies of the bridge that joins Santa Lucia train station with Piazzale Roma.

The first hearing will be held at Italy’s Supreme Court in November and will focus primarily on why Calatrava's Venice bridge ended up being €4 million over budget.

Lawyers representing the Valencian architect have already told the court his involvement in Venice's Ponte della Constituzione was as a collaborator rather than as a supervisor.

If confirmed, Calatrava wouldn't have to appear before Venice’s Court of Accounts nor would he have to pay the €3.4 million in damages they are demanding, judicial sources told Spanish daily 20minutos.

Photo: Tim Brown Architecture/Flickr

Calatrava's rise to stardom was largely down to his design of Valencia's Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias, an entertainment-based cultural and architectural complex in his Spanish hometown.

Story continues below…

The project has become a symbol of profligate spending and financial mismanagement which dogs Valencia to this day.

Calatrava made €94 million from the complex, leading some critics to accuse him of bleeding Valencia dry.

Some of his other notorious building projects include three bridges in Holland which rusted after a year and a Parliament in the northern Spanish city of Oviedo for which he was forced to pay €3.15 million in compensation after the eaves of the building collapsed .

His work on New York's World Trade Center Transportation Hub is also six years behind schedule and will cost $4 billion, twice its original budget.

Alex Dunham (alex.dunham@thelocal.com)

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