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A blog from CityRealty (Links below will take you to the 6sqft site)

Carter's View

Salvatore Calatrava and Frank O. Gehry are the world's most important, respected and beloved architects.

Mr. Gehry, the architect of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, has been given retrospective museum exhibitions at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Mr. Calatrava was in town today for the press preview of his own, impressive retrospective exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art that will open to the public tomorrow.

Mr. Calatrava was thronged by many Spanish-speaking members of the press and besieged by television camera crews. He was very patient with these groups that sent non-Spanish-speaking members of the working press in search of coffee and croissants, the staples of museum press previews. Alas, they were none.

What about an exhibition catalogue, we asked. Sorry. None.

We tried unsuccessfully to bully our way through the Spanish-speaking members of the press, all attached to mini-recorders, to ask Mr. Calatrava at least two questions. We retreated and spent time actually looking at the objects in the handsome show: traditional architectural models, drawings, computer walk-throughs and exquisite modern sculptures.

For the obsessive architectural fan, some of the projects included in the exhibition were familiar, such as the World Trade Center Transportation Hub, 80 South Street, the Alamillo Bridge in Seville, Spain, the Lyons (France) Airport Railway Station, the Tenerife Concert Hall in the Canary Islands, Spain, and the Milwaukee Art Museum of Art.

Less familiar but very exciting was the La Rioja Bodegas Ysios Winery in La Guardia, Spain, which has an undulating metal roof of tremendous wave-like motion and his spectacular sculptures such as "Eye," "Mother and Child," "Waves," and three new works done this year: "Musical Star," "Running Torso" and "Shadow Machine."

Mr. Calatrava divides his time almost equally between architecture and sculpture/painting and therefore glimpses of his latest sculptures hold the promise of future "wonder" cities, or so it might seem on a blustery, clear, autumnal day in a city on the verge of its first two Calatravas: 80 South Street and the World Trade Center Transportation Hub.

80 South Street is the much acclaimed tower a couple of blocks south of the South Street Seaport that consists of 10 stacked, four-story townhouses, each separated by a roof garden, on a large base and all topped by a tall spire, reaching well over 900 feet into the Lower Manhattan skyline. Mr. Gehry is designing a slightly larger, mixed-use project for Forest City Ratner a few blocks inland and north. Mr. Gehry's design has not yet been publicly shown but it and Mr. Calatrava's design have tremendously excited many planners, long since exhausted by the multiple design changes at the former World Trade Center site.

Another Calatrava design very much in the public eye is his winged portal design for a major new transportation hub near the former World Trade Center Side. The exhibition includes a model that indicates that the "feathers" of the huge wings were glass panels between the long ribs, but the adjacent computer video fly-by of the project in the exhibition did not seem to indicate that the wings' ribs were connected with glass.

We finally managed to get close to the charming Mr. Calatrava and asked which was the correct version of the wings that New Yorkers can look forward to gaping at. Mr. Calatrava smiled, and said that the model was an "early" version, quickly adding that he felt that the "open" wings were better.

Emboldened, we then asked Mr. Calatrava whether 80 South Street was going to be built and what its status is. Mr. Calatrava smiled and said that it will be built and that units are being sold.
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Architecture Critic Carter Horsley Since 1997, Carter B. Horsley has been the editorial director of CityRealty. He began his journalistic career at The New York Times in 1961 where he spent 26 years as a reporter specializing in real estate & architectural news. In 1987, he became the architecture critic and real estate editor of The New York Post.