Architect, artist, and engineer Santiago Calatrava was born on July 28, 1951, in Valencia, Spain. His background was eclectic. Calatrava is an aristocratic name, passed down from a medieval order of knights. The family on both sides was engaged in the agricultural export business, which gave them an international outlook that was rare during the Franco dictatorship.

Calatrava attended primary and secondary school in Valencia. From the age of eight, he also attended the Arts and Crafts School, where he began his formal instruction in drawing and painting. When he was thirteen, his family took advantage of the recent opening of the borders and sent him to Paris as an exchange student. He later traveled and studied in Switzerland as well. Upon completing high school in Valencia, he went to Paris with the intention of enrolling in the Ecole des Beaux-Arts; but since he arrived in June 1968, he found his plan was unworkable. He returned to Valencia and enrolled in the Escuela Tecnica Superior de Arquitectura, a relatively new institution, where he earned a degree in architecture and took a post-graduate course in urbanism. While at the school, he also undertook independent projects with a group of fellow students, bringing out two books on the vernacular architecture of Valencia and Ibiza.

Attracted by the mathematical rigor of certain great works of historic architecture, and feeling that his training in Valencia had given him no clear direction, Calatrava decided to pursue post-graduate studies in civil engineering and enrolled in 1975 at the ETH (Federal Institute of Technology) in Zurich. He received his Ph.D. in 1979. It was during this period that he met and married his wife, who was a law student in Zurich.

After completing his studies, Calatrava took a position as an assistant at the ETH and began to accept small engineering commissions, such as designing the roof for a library or the balcony of a private residence. He also began to enter 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 city in which he established his office.

1984, Calatrava, designed and build the Bach de Roda Bridge, commissioned for the Olympic Games in Barcelona. This was the beginning of the bridge projects that established his international reputation. Among the other notable bridges that followed were the Alamillo Bridge and viaduct, commissioned for the World’s Fair in Seville (1987-92); Campo Volantin Footbridge in Bilbao (1990-97); and Alameda Bridge and underground station in Valencia (1991-95).

Calatrava established his firm’s second office, in Paris, in 1989, when he was working on the Lyon Airport Station (1989-94). He opened his third office, in Valencia, in 1991 to facilitate work on a competition, a very large cultural complex and urban intervention, the City of Arts and Sciences, Valencia (ongoing). Other large-scale public projects from the late 1980s through the mid-1990s include the BCE Place mall in Toronto (1987-92); the Oriente railway station in Lisbon (1993-98, commissioned for Expo ’98); and the winning proposal in the design competition to complete the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City (1991), a project that has not been realized.

Exhibitions of Calatrava’s work were first mounted in 1985, with a showing of nine sculptures in an art gallery in Zurich. A new stage in recognition was marked by two solo exhibitions: a retrospective at the Royal Institute of British Architects, London, in 1992, and the exhibition Structure and Expression at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1993. The latter exhibition included an installation in the museum’s Sculpture Garden of Shadow Machine, a large-scale sculpture with undulating concrete “fingers.” The most complete exhibition yet mounted of his work was Santiago Calatrava: Artist, Architect, Engineer, presented at the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence, Italy (2000- 2001). Similar exhibitions were mounted in 2001 in Dallas, Texas (to inaugurate the new Meadows Museum) and in Athens, at the National Gallery, Alexandro Soutzos Museum.

Major projects that were recently inaugurated include Sondica Airport, Bilbao (2000); The Bridge of Europe, Orléans, France (2000); the Bodegas Ysios winery in Laguardia, Spain (2001); and Calatrava’s first building in the United States, the acclaimed expansion of the Milwaukee Art Museum (2001). Among the projects that are currently coming to completion are Blackhall Place Bridge, Dublin, Ireland (early 2003); Tenerife Opera House, Santa Cruz, Canary Islands (September 2003); Petach Tikvah Bridge, Tel Aviv, Israel (spring 2003); Quatro Ponte sul Canal Grande, Venice, Italy (late 2003/early 2004); Turtle Bay Bridge, Redding, California (summer 2004); the Athens Olympic Sports Complex (summer 2004); and the Valencia Opera House (2004), the last major building in his City of Arts and Sciences.

Among his major recent commissions, Calatrava has been selected to design Christ the Light Cathedral for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland, California; and Symphony Center for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in Atlanta, Georgia.

Honors and awards given to Santiago Calatrava include the Gold Medal of the Institute of Structural Engineers, London; the City of Toronto Urban Design Award; designation as a Global Leader for Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum in Davos; the Creu Sant Jordi, Barcelona; the Gold Medal for Merit in the Fine Arts, Ministry of Culture, Spain; membership in Les Arts et Lettres, Paris; the Algur H. Meadows Award for Excellence in the Arts (Meadows School of the Arts); the Gold Medal of the Circulo de Bellas Artes, Valencia; Time Magazine’s “Best of 2001” designation for the expansion of the Milwaukee Art Museum; the Sir Misha Black Medal, Royal College of Art, London; the Leonardo da Vinci Medal, Société pour la Formation des Ingénieurs; and the Principe de Asturias Art Prize; the High Gold Medal of Architecture of L’ Académie d’Architecture, Paris; the Silver Beam Award of the Swedish Institute of Steel Construction and the International llumination Design Award of Merit, Illuminating Engineering Society of North America for the interior lighting of the expansion of the Milwaukee Art Museum. In addition, Santiago Calatrava has received 12 honorary doctorates to date.