Santiago Calatrava’s Latest Bridge Debacle Finds Calgary Residents Taking Sides


If you haven’t been following the latest hot button issues in Calgary, please allow us this opportunity to get you up to speed on at least one. Starchitect Santiago Calatrava, he of the ever-changing World Trade Center Transportation Hub and the ever-stalled Chicago Spire, has finally unveiled plans for the Peace Bridge, a bike and pedestrian path that crosses the Bow River in the center of the city. While Calatrava being in any city to design something is usually cause for much to-do, Calgary has been playing it very low-key, running into a great number of detractors who either a) hate the way the bridge looks, b) are upset that it’s going to cost the city $25 million, or c) that the city government put the whole plans in action quickly and secretly without really mentioning it to the general public. There are arguments aplenty from both sites, like radio commentator Mike Blanchard‘s funny piece on why the bridge stinks, saying it “reminds [him] of a middle-aged man going through a mid-life crisis” and that “this design tries too hard.” The Calgary Sun‘s Don Braid sees the whole fight as good for the city, saying it helps get people talking about architecture and what they want their surroundings to look like. Meanwhile, the paper also got a chance to talk to Calatrava himself, which is surprisingly open about asking the architect these tough questions, like if the bridge is a waste of taxpayer money or if it’s too flashy for the area. Calatrava gingerly walks around the outskirts of a few of the questions, but it’s interesting to see him pressed about the controversy. Our question to him would be: do you think you’ll ever build a bridge in a city and not run into trouble?