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Santiago Calatrava vs. the City of Bilbao

From left, Calatrava; the bridge in question.Photo: Getty Images, AFP/Getty Images

The Times today offers an Arts in Brief about a case that was all over the London papers last week. Starchitect Santiago Calatrava — you know, the guy who makes everything look like the same graceful bird in flight — is suing the city of Bilbao over their plans to add an extension to his iconic ten-year-old Campo Volantin footbridge. Calatrava claims that the extension, designed by Japanese architect Arata Isozaki, "breaks the symmetry of the bridge, clumsily distorts the design … and damages the integrity of his work," and is seeking 250,000 Euros and the dismantling of the extension, or 3 million euros in "moral damages" if the extension stays up.

The Isozaki extension.Photo: Fernando Pascullo

What makes this argument a particularly delicious slice of beef — other than that, as this photo suggests, the extension actually is really ugly — is the unusual belligerence of Bilbao's mayor, the euphonically named Iñaki Azkuna. Fed up with the bridge, which locals slip and fall on every day and whose every glass panel has cracked and been replaced (at a cost of 200,000 euros), Azkuna has struck back at Calatrava: "The paintings of Goya are works of art; a bridge is for people to walk on," he said. Told that Calatrava considered the bridge his intellectual property, Azkuna snapped, "If it's his intellectual property, let him take his intellectual property. We've had enough of the dictatorship of Calatrava saying we can't touch his little bridge. We've had enough of this superstar." Nice! Could you imagine the furor if, say, Bloomberg took this attitude toward Liebeskind?

Calatrava Sues for 'Violation of Copyright' Over Bridge Changes [The Independent]
Related: Santiago Calatrava [NYM]