The latest WTC architect.

What we build.
Aug. 21 2003 1:31 PM

Risky Business

Will Santiago Calatrava's high-design style work at Ground Zero?

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That news seems to be built more of spin than substance. But maybe the arrival of Calatrava will provide a fresh method of keeping the various players honest. His architecture seems likely to show the effects of misguided tampering a lot more clearly than that of Libeskind or Skidmore Owings & Merrill's David Childs, the master designer of sleek corporate towers who has also joined the WTC rebuilding team.

By this I don't mean that Calatrava's work is fragile. I mean that it's almost always stripped down to its basics, with its precise structural and architectural logic on full display. In other words, if Calatrava's first New York building is compromised by some inane political deal cooked up in Silverstein's office, or George Pataki's, it'll be the architecture itself that lets us know.

Correction, Aug. 25, 2003: Due to an editorial mistake this article originally featured an image of the Barqueta Bridge in Seville, which was not designed by Santiago Calatrava. In fact, Calatrava designed the nearby Alamillo Bridge.

Christopher Hawthorne is the architecture critic for the Los Angeles Times.