You Can’t Fight Bilbao’s City Hall: Calatrava Loses Lawsuit


Doesn’t being a starchitect count for anything these days? Apparently not, at least in Spain anyway. Architectural Record is reporting that big shot Santiago Calatrava has lost his lawsuit against the city of Bilbao for mucking up a bridge he’d designed by tacking on a new walkway leading up to it, thus skipping Calatrava’s stairs and making it easier for people to get across (apparently, we’re figuring, the architect really hates people in wheelchairs). He fought tough, saying that the bridge was a work of his artistic creation and, like the Mona Lisa, no one should be sticking a stretch of pavement right through it. He was extra offended that they didn’t even tell him their expansion plans from the get-go. But in the end, his superstar status didn’t play and the Spanish government shot down his suit, thus going against their decade old intellectual property law, at least to some degree. Here’s a bit:

In his ruling, judge Edmundo Rodriguez Achutegui recognized that Calatrava’s rights as author of the bridge had been infringed, but he ruled that the public utility of the addition took precedence over this private right. “In addition to constituting a singular artistic creation suitable for protection, the work is public one, offering a service to the citizens, and thus satisfies a public interest,” he said. “If we weigh these interests, the public must prevail over the private.”

We gotta say that we’re at a draw with putting any blame on this one. First, because Calatrava should have known better than to use just stairs on a public, government-financed bridge. But on the other hand, they really should have told him before they just stuck the thing on there. That’s sort of like calling Frank Lloyd Wright to say, “Hey, we just re-routed that stupid stream running through Fallingwater. Figured you didn’t ever really want it there in the first place because, you know, it was so wet and stuff.”