I brought home the book, “Santiago Calatrava The Bridges”, by Alexander Tzonis & Rebeca Caso Donadei, last night from the University library. It is full of images of Calatrava’s bridge designs (obviously) but a few things stood out to me after a quick browse.
One, the sheer whiteness of the bridges! How does he get all the elements so white? When I was in the precast industry we used a lot of iron oxide dyes to color our products. (I would go home completely red) The dyes worked well but because of changing moisture in the mixes we would experience color variations in different concrete batches. (I tried using an earth color for a bridge pier and the different ready-mix concrete loads were fairly apparent in the final product, so we moved to stains.)
Two, round concrete surfaces. Some of the bridges I have designed had some unique and changing surfaces. But a whole bridge of rounded and flowing corners must have been a bear to form up for the contractor! (You can see my engineering bias shinning through.) I am very impressed by the concrete workmanship on his bridges. Yes, paint can hide a lot but the closeups in the book show some real attention to detail.
And finally the “thickness” of the bridges. When you look closer at some of the bridge elements on his bridges they seem to be very deep and solid. The images I have typically seen show his bridges from a distance. Since I have never experienced a “Calatrava” in person, I have never got a sense of the size of the bridge elements involved in his designs.