Press Release: European Prize for Architecture 2015 Tell a friend



Europe’s Highest Award Presented at an Award Ceremony to be held at the World Trade Center in New York on November 17

One of the world's foremost visionary, utopian, and iconic architects today, Santiago Calatrava Valls, has been named as this year’s recipient of the European Prize for Architecture, awarded by The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design, together with The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies.

The European Prize for Architecture is Europe’s most prestigious prize given annually to architects who have blazoned a new path and direction for an architecture that is deeply humane and committed to forward the principles of European humanism.

Last year, the European Prize for Architecture was given to the Italian architect, Alessandro Mendini.

Born in Spain in 1951, Calatrava earned a degree in architecture and then in civil engineering, intrigued by the mathematics behind historic architecture.

Early in his career, Calatrava worked as an engineer and began to enter architectural competitions, believing this was his most likely way to secure commissions. His first winning competition proposal, in 1983, was for the design and construction of Stadelhofen Railway Station in Zurich.

The next year, Calatrava designed and built a bridge for the Olympic Games in Barcelona; this was the beginning of a series of bridge projects that established his international reputation.

By the mid-1980s, Calatrava was hired for large-scale public projects, and opened offices for his company in Zurich, Paris, Valencia, and later New York. During this period, he also began to exhibit his abstract sculptures in museums and galleries.

Known for his flowing, curved buildings, he uses steel, concrete, and new computer modeling to create compositions that appear at once natural and structurally impossible. His compositions convey a sense of direction and movement.

"In this sense," states Christian Narkiewicz-Laine, Museum President, The Chicago Athenaeum, "the Spanish-born architect Calatrava is more than just an architect. He is a visionary theorist, philosopher, and utopian and a true artist in the craft of engineering and architectonic expressionism. His buildings are not just 'building.' They are powerful works of art; inspired by a master's gifted hand and sculpted by a superior, critical eye; immensely evocative and fiercely intellectual."

“If ‘form follows function’ is the rallying cry of modern architecture, Calatrava’s postmodern structures turn this maxim on its head. His designs suggest stylized natural objects—waves, wings, or sun-bleached skeletons, with rows of white concrete ribs curved into distorted parabolic arches. The true purpose of these dramatic contours are both aesthetic and structural.”

“It is significant that The European Prize for Architecture honors Calatrava as an architect, engineer, sculptor, and painter,” Narkiewicz-Laine adds.


“Calatrava has sealed the deal on the long-standing modernist debate as to whether ‘architecture is engineering' or ‘architecture is an art,’ continues Narkiewicz-Laine. “For decades, modern architects sneered at any close association with the practice of architecture as being an ‘art form,’ but instead based their professional designing pursuits on pure engineering. Even art-inspired architects as Hassan Fathy and a host of South American architects, including Luis Barragán, have held themselves out to be total engineers. For this singular architect practitioner, architecture is engineering and is definitively art. In Calatrava, we see all three disciplines seamlessly merging into the one practice of architecture with no distinctions or any separations whatsoever.”

Download the full press release here

• A catalogue on Santiago Calatrava on the occasion of the European Prize for Architecture is published by Metropolitan Arts Press and is available through The European Centre.

For press information and photographs please contact with Ira Livadioti:

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