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One of an elite group of architects whose work is an almost instantly recognizable global brand, Santiago Calatrava has been described as a "poet of glass and steel."
Trained in art, architecture and engineering, the Spaniard seamlessly blurs the boundaries between the disciplines, creating structures that are also sculptures.
"I have tried to get close to the frontier between architecture and sculpture and to understand architecture as an art," says Calatrava, whose influences include Le Corbusier and Gaudi.
Although the Valencia-born Calatrava now works out of New York and has his main headquarters in Zurich, it has been his hometown that has inspired his most monumental and dramatic designs in the futuristic landscape of the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias.
Calatrava's latest addition to the complex, the Palau de les Artes concert hall, was described by one critic as "something Darth Vader might wear to a nightclub."
Characterized by fluid forms and elegant asymmetric motifs, Calatrava's work is noted for its asymmetry and its referencing of natural shapes such as waves, shells, leaves and skeletal forms.
It is a style that lends itself easily to the iconic architecture of travel -- bridges, stations and airports all feature prominently in Calatrava's portfolio.
"Calatrava has brought to the world of travel an incomparable high-tech lyricism," said Time Magazine, naming Calatrava one of its innovative thinkers of the year in 2004.
"His structures speak plainly of engineering, of struts and cables, white concrete pylons and keen-edged glass louvers. But at the same time they suggest unmistakably the pliant forms of nature -- an eye, a torso, a bird in flight -- that inspire him."
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