7 Santiago Calatrava Sculptures Line Park Avenue


This hasn't been an easy time here in New York City for the world-renowned architect Santiago Calatrava. His World Trade Center Transit Hub–officially called Bird In Flight but sneered at by critics as a "kitsch stegosaurus", or a dead fish, or a picked-over Thanksgiving turkey–is some eight years behind schedule, $2 billion over budget, and STILL not open, though apparently we will get to go inside a portion of it "soon". I happen to think it's aesthetically pretty amazing, and am looking forward to the time when we'll all have freedom of movement throughout the whole site, but the outrage over the cost and snark about the design has taken its toll on the architect, who recently told the Wall Street Journal, "I have been treated like a dog." In the meantime though, as all of that plays out downtown, Calatrava has another, much simpler and really quite lovely thing going on in Midtown, an exhibition of seven new sculptures on the Park Avenue median in the low 50s.      


The seven new pieces on the Park Avenue median are all unmistakably by Calatrava, with that organic/industrial aesthetic that evokes delicate animal skeletons and heavy metal machinery in about equal measure. And so much movement! Looking at some these works you would swear they were kinetic, or about to lurch off their grassy home and into the street. In particular the three largest sculptures, which are bright red so they look terrific against any background, seem as if all they need is a nudge, or the flick of a switch, to continue whatever epic journey they're on. If you can, try and check out these red ones from all angles, as the appearance changes quite dramatically from the front to the side to the other side to the rear.         


Architechture On Park Avenue

The other four Calatrava sculptures on Park Avenue are also pretty cool. Painted black or silver and made of aluminum, these are more barbed, and feel a little dangerous. If the red ones reminded me of gentle giants, the silver one in particular have a whirling dervish quality to them, as if they are frantically revving up to take off down the avenue, tearing up everything in their path. Like Sonic the Hedgehog when you'd spin him furiously in place before letting him rip. It all serves as a good reminder why Calatrava, despite his WTC woes, is so admired and sought-after in the first place. Lots of fun, and a welcome dynamism among the imposing towers on the area.


For More Information on Santiago Caltrava 

The seven sculptures of Santiago Calatrava: On Park Avenue are located on the median between 52nd and 55th Streets, and will remain there through November 15.

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