The very name - Santiago Calatrava - brings thoughts of things exotic to mind. Indeed, Mr. Calatrava's architectural masterpieces could well be described as exotic in the extreme.
He designs with flair and verve, producing structures which seem to defy gravity itself. Truly a new breed of designer, Santiago Calatrava is a magnificent blend of artist, engineer and architect. If you have ever had the pleasure of listing to him talk, you will understand what I am saying.
But the real joy of Santiago Calatrava is having the even greater pleasure of seeing his incredible structures.
There is nothing ordinary about his design abilities. Nothing ordinary about his buildings. Nothing ordinary about his expansive imagination - for one has to imagine such structures before the design turns into reality.
His Milwaukee Art Museum is an excellent case in point.
Who but Santiago, would have the audacity to design such a building? Not only is the building stunning in appearance, but then we discover that the roof itself seems to be capable of flight!
This was not an inexpensive building to erect. In fact, Santiago was somewhat disappointed when the cost of the wings very nearly scuttled that part of the design. Surely, the building would not have been the same without those huge wings.
Originally, the box structures in the wings were to be made from carbon fibre. An extremely strong yet light weight material, which possesses steel like strength qualities. The downside to this material is twofold. It is both difficult to work with and it is very expensive.
In order to fabricate the components for the massive wings, a huge autoclave would be needed. Such pieces of equipment are used to manufacture items like masts for high end sailboats, world class yachts where no expense is spared. Just a single mast can cost more than some homes!
With some 36 boxes required on each side of the wing assembly, the cost proved to be too great. Even with Mr. Calatrava's considerable charm exerted toward the fund raising efforts.
Refusing to accept defeat, Santiago adapted the design to use steel tubes. A far less costly avenue, but one which would add weight to the roof structure. This proved to be the saving grace for this unquestionably important part of the building. The wings were saved.
I sincerely hope that I can entice you to read more about Santiago - only this time with pictures. Find out more about this amazing fellow by visiting here now.
Keith Elliott is a retired builder with interests in Astronomy, Architecture, Japanese Gardening, Photography, Writing, Woodworking and anything else that doesn't move.