Calatrava refutes inflated fees claim over 94-million-euro Valencia payout

Architect argues that City of Arts and Sciences deal was "modest"

Santiago Calatrava (center) visiting his City of Arts and Sciences complex in Valencia during construction.
Santiago Calatrava (center) visiting his City of Arts and Sciences complex in Valencia during construction.MÓNICA TORRES

Santiago Calatrava, the world-famous architect from Valencia who is known for his airy designs, has had to justify his fees following claims by leftwing politicians that the previous regional government systematically overpaid him. In a press release, the Calatrava studio stated that all the fees charged for public building projects in the Valencian region "are below average for similar projects in other countries." The statement describes the amounts as "modest," considering that Calatrava was charging in his dual capacity as engineer and architect.

The man who designed the future World Trade Center Transportation Hub in New York, as well as scores of projects all over the world, made over 94 million euros for the City of Arts and Sciences, a massive complex in Valencia that is underutilized and has come to represent the culture of money squandering in this cash-strapped region. He also pocketed 2.7 million euros for the master plan, the draft project and the basic project of the Castellón Convention Center, whose construction has been paralyzed over city planning issues.

Esquerra Unida (EU) also claims that the architect may have charged 15 million euros for designing three skyscrapers in the regional capital that will likely never be built. Documents show that the previous conservative government of the Popular Party systematically reviewed Calatrava's existing contracts with the administration and raised his fees, say EU deputies Ignacio Blanco and Marina Albiol.

But the studio noted that Santiago Calatrava "has carried out projects in the Valencia region for over 20 years, commissioned by various regional governments of different political tendencies."

"In some of these works, which take pride of place in world architecture for their technical and artistic quality, the work of the architect and his collaborators is being unfairly criticized, even though all decisions [...] are made exclusively by the clients [in] Valencia and Castellón," the statement reads.

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