The Gold Standard
Annie Block -- Interior Design, 4/1/2010 12:00:00 AM
Santiago Calatrava is best known for his bridges. Every single one of them—a total of 40 around the world by year's end—is a feat of grace in suspension. But the architect, engineer, and artist also creates structures of a less utilitarian kind.
A gleaming example is a kinetic sculpture commissioned to commemorate the 300th anniversary of a savings bank in his native Spain. Given free rein to conceptualize the Monumento de Caja Madrid, he came up with a slender golden cylinder 305 feet high. "I originally designed it taller, actually. Then I scaled it back to be in better proportion with the surrounding square and two nearby towers," he says. The final version weighs 572 tons, set on a base only 10 feet in diameter.
Wavelike movement accentuates the monument's silhouette, as hydraulic and electrical systems exert outward and inward forces on gold-leafed bronze bars bolted to an internal steel support. "The kinetic aspect contrasts with the static skyscrapers nearby," Calatrava continues. "It makes the monument appear to dance." An apt comparison from a man who has also designed stage sets for the New York City Ballet's spring 2010 season.