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Calatrava to Pay $4.3M for Design Flaws

Monday, June 17, 2013

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A court in Spain recently ordered world-famous architect Santiago Calatrava to pay €3.3 million (about $4.3 million USD) due to flaws in one of his designs in Asturias.

On June 7, the court agreed with the architect that he was owed some €7.28 million ($9.7 million USD) in unpaid fees for the project, but also accepted some of the claims made by the owner of the Conference and Exhibition Center in the city of Oviedo, according to reports on the case.

Conference and Exhibition Center in Ovideo
Jsmq / Wikimedia Commons

The case involves the Palacio de Congresos in Ovideo, Asturias, Spain, which opened in 2011.

The Spanish architect designed the modern complex, known as the Palacio de Congresos, in 2003, but it wasn’t built until 2011 after a number of issues stalled its completion, including a partial structural collapse and the financial crisis.

The project ended up costing €360 million ($479.8 million USD), five times more than was originally budgeted, according to local news outlets.

Designer vs. Developer

Calatrava had initiated the lawsuit, demanding that property developer and owner Jovellanos XXI pay him outstanding fees, according to reports.

The owner, however, argued that Calatrava owed the company €25 million ($33.3 million USD) for a number of issues on the project, including numerous changes to the design.

The judge, deciding in the owner's favor, reportedly reduced the damage figure to €10.55 million ($14 million USD), rejecting many of the issues raised by Jovellanos XXI.

Thus, since the owner owed Calatrava €7.28 million, the architect was ordered to pay the difference.

The firm did not respond to a request for comment on the case Friday (June 14).

Roof Problems, Partial Collapse

Jovellanos XXI had refused to pay Calatrava when the roof of the gigantic white steel and concrete structure was not movable due to technical problems in the design, according to reports. The owner spent nearly €7 million ($9.3 million USD) in an attempt to repair the roof, but it eventually had to be left fixed-in-place, reports said.

Moreover, the building partially collapsed “in spectacular fashion” during construction in 2006 and Jovellanos XXI footed the repair bill of €3.46 million ($4.61 million USD), according to reports.

Milwaukee Art Museum
Cburnett / Wikimedia Commons

Santiago Calatrava's portfolio includes the Milwaukee Art Museum (pictured), the Athens Olympic Sports Complex and the Quarto Ponte sul Canal Grande in Venice.

In his judgment in Jovellanos XXI’s favor, Judge Pablo Martínez-Hombre said Calatrava was not responsible for the huge budget influx during the project as it was “not an architect's role to control costs,” according to reports.

The dramatic complex is a “sign of identity of the city,” according to the center’s website. The Palace features expansive exhibition and congress halls, a shopping center, hotel, as well as facilities for the Asturian government in the capital city.

Calatrava is no stranger to legal rows with clients. In April, the owner of a Calatrava-designed winery, also in Spain, demanded that the architect pay for the owner’s repeated attempts to stop the building’s roof from leaking, according to The Guardian.

Extensive Portfolio

Still, the designer is considered one of the world’s foremost architectural designers, with bridges, skyscrapers, transit facilities, and institutional buildings renowned for their fusion of advanced engineering and dramatic visual statement.

Calatrava’s extensive portfolio of work includes the Milwaukee Art Museum (2001), the Athens Olympic Sports Complex (2004), the Light Rail Trail Bridge in Jerusalem (2007) and the Quarto Ponte sul Canal Grande in Venice (2008) and the Liège-Guillemins TGV Railway Station in Belgium (2009).

Most recently, the architect designed the Oculus building for the World Trade Center Transportation Hub in New York City. Completion on that project is set for mid-2015.


Tagged categories: Aesthetics; Architecture; Building owners; Business matters; Design; Laws and litigation; Santiago Calatrava

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