It’s not just the leaking Oculus: Santiago Calatrava hit with suit over Venice bridge

Santiago Calatrava with the Constitution Bridge in Venice and the Oculus (Credit: Getty Images)

Santiago Calatrava with the Constitution Bridge in Venice and the Oculus (Credit: Getty Images)

A Venice court has fined world-renowned architect Santiago Calatrava for going $5 million over budget on a bridge.

The original budget for the Constitution Bridge on Venice’s Grand Canal was $7.7 million, according to the BBC. But the structure had numerous problems after its opening in 2008, including flimsy steps and mismatched tubes.

The issues are reminiscent of the problems at another iconic Calatrava project: the Oculus, the centerpiece of the World Trade Center.

The structure’s retractable skylight began leaking after a 2018 ceremony. The Port Authority, which owns the part-transit hub and luxe-shopping center, has spent $30,000 on Flex Tape to try and seal the tear. The landlord has blamed construction work for the problems.

But there’s been other snafus at the property. In 2017, two men were mildly injured when the escalator went awry. And according to the Port Authority, the software that controls the motors for each of the 40 panes of glass malfunctioned in August, restarting several times.

Calatrava originally designed the Oculus to pivot on both sides before opening. But a decade ago, that plan was scrapped to reduce costs at the World Trade Center, when the $2 billion budget was soaring.

In Venice, the local court accused Calatrava of macroscopic negligence,” and said the allegations were taken very seriously because Calatrava is “a respected, world-famous professional, with a very high level of competence.”

The architect has denied any issues with the Venice bridge. He was fined $87,500. [BBC] — Georgia Kromrei

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