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Year 142 – 2002: Portraits by Santiago Calatrava

Published: Zurich, 2002

Santiago Calatrava is among the most celebrated architects working today. His bridges don’t merely span gaps between two points, and his buildings don’t merely enclose space. All of Calatrava’s structures are highly sculptural and dramatic, and they sometimes test the limits of technology. Fear not; he is also a structural engineer.

But that’s not all. Calatrava creates designs for opera, ballet, and theater; he paints; he sculpts. His work in all its variety has been the subject of exhibitions in major museums worldwide.

Calatrava’s soaring, winged design for the transportation hub at the World Trade Center site in New York is currently under construction. His dramatic, 2005 “Turning Torso” skyscraper in Malmö, Sweden, has won multiple awards, as have numerous other Calatrava structures.

It was as an architect and structural engineer that, in 1997, Calatrava was invited to MIT for three days of lectures. He interacted with professionals, with faculty, and with students from the departments of architecture and civil engineering. “The MIT Lectures” were a hit, and were later released in book form.

Some time after his visit, his office sent several books by and about Calatrava to MIT, with the architect’s compliments – but not only with his compliments. The volumes were also hand-decorated and signed by Calatrava himself. Each title page carried a color sketch, with Calatrava’s signature.

Books concerning specific structures, books on bridges, on museum exhibitions of Calatrava’s work, books containing portraits or depictions of animals – all were individually decorated and signed by the architect/artist.

The title page of today’s entry, Portraits, is decorated with an elegant, classical profile in graphite and watercolor. Along with the other decorated Calatrava volumes, it’s housed in the Limited Access Collection of MIT’s Rotch Library of Architecture and Planning.

Find it in the library