Too Late to Find Another Architect For the Margaret McDermott Bridge?

There's more bad news about the previous work of Santiago Calatrava.

A rendering of the McBridge, which was downgraded from having four arches to only two to cut costs.
A rendering of the McBridge, which was downgraded from having four arches to only two to cut costs.

We’re probably too far along in the process of the creation of the new Interstate 30 bridge over the Trinity River (aka Large Marge‘s little sister, the McBridge) to back out of this deal now. Especially since parts of it are already being manufactured in Tampa. So the bridge, slated to open in 2016, is pretty much a sunk cost at this point.

But the bad news about architect Santiago Calatrava keeps coming. As we’ve mentioned before, many of his clients have been unhappy with the quality of their signature projects. Now comes news that the people of his birthplace — Valencia, Spain — are suing him over his design of the opera house in their City of Arts and Sciences, the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia.

The theater has a metal shell that tends to buckle as it expands and contracts in Valencia’s daily temperature extremes. Such buckling might just give it a beat-up look – unwonted but not unattractive – if it weren’t for the thousand of tiny mosaic-like tiles that cover the metal sheets. These have started to ripple into wrinkles, transforming what started out looking like cool, pristine enamel into something closer to well-used bed sheets.

Last week, a panel of experts confirmed the worst – the tiles will all have to be removed. Not only will this cost around €3 million, it has to be done fast. With a new opera season set to debut due in late February, workers will soon be taking pickaxes to the tiles. As some have already come off in high winds, they need to ensure opera-goers aren’t greeted with a shower of deadly confetti.

Calatrava says the problem was in the construction, not in his blueprint.


  • Wylie H Dallas

    The existing bridge already looks like crap… and I notice, again, that the lights seems to be out at night on a regular basis. And, oh yeah, there’s the matter of the killer ice sheets that require it to be shut down after ice storms. The quality of the concrete form work on the bridge approaches is also extremely poor— irregular edges, etc. (poor craftsmanship such as that is frequently observed in some emerging markets, but I have never seen concrete work of such poor quality in any other U.S. infrastructure projects).