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Taking Flight: Santiago Calatrava's Breathtaking Palacio de Congresos


Does anybody do a brise soleil like Santiago Calatrava? Don't  think so. At his namesake firm's Palacio de Congresos—a  two- million-square-foot project under construction for the past seven years in the northern Spanish city of Oviedo—the automated painted-steel structure opens and closes depending on when sunlight is welcome in the mammoth auditorium. Elliptically shaped to enhance acoustics, it will host not only congressional sessions but also conferences and other events.


The surrounding U-shape construction, elevated 66 feet on steel beams, houses offices in its two wings and a 161-room hotel in the center. Not to be outdone by what hovers above, the ground level is likewise compelling. A public garden partially covers six subterranean levels, divided between a shopping mall and a garage.