09/09/2011 04:41 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Santiago Calatrava, Famed Spanish Architect, Leaves DIA Redevelopment Project; DIA Settles For Nearly $800,000 (UPDATE)

World-renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava has said that he and his firm, Festina Lente, are withdrawing from the Denver International Airport’s $500 million terminal redevelopment project, Northern Colorado 5 reports.

The Denver Post reports that DIA has already paid $12.9 million for the initial design work that Calatrava and his firm have done and plan on moving forward with his design without the architect.


The Associated Press reports that Denver International Airport officials have agreed to pay Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava an additional $793,000 to use the majority of his design for DIA's South Terminal redesign project.

The agreement announced on Wednesday pays Calatrava $543,000 for some remaining design work invoices and another $250,000 in licensing that will allow DIA to use most of the architect's already submitted drawings. DIA spokesperson, Kim Day said that DIA and the city are getting their money's worth from the deal because they are in essence getting "two years of work" from the Spanish architect and his firm.

7News reports that the budget for the terminal redesign project was slashed by 23 percent, from $650 million to $500 million, back in February. The budget cuts led Calatrava and his firm to leave the project.


Festina Lente sent a letter to Kim Day, aviation manager, that said the firm felt that the project lacked sufficient funding to accomplish the grand design goals that Calatrava had in mind, according to 7News. The letter went on to say that there are “deep divisions” between the various teams involved with the project from contractors to airport representatives.

9News reports that Calatrava revealed his iconic terminal design and passenger train bridge that would carry travelers from downtown Denver to DIA last year. But airport officials said they could not afford the bridge design Calatrava came up with, instead they wanted to go with the basic bridge the the Regional Transportation District would provide. However, they were still interested in proceeding with other parts of Calatrava’s vision.

Calatrava’s work is famous around the world and has won over a dozen major awards. But Calatrava's designs have seen their fair share of criticism as well, mainly calling out some of his work as impractical. The airport in Bilbao, Spain has a bridge with tiles that are prone to breaking and get slippery under weather, according to El Correo Digital. Calatrava’s bridge in Venice has been plagued with problems, its design, which has been altered numerous times over the years, made for excessive weight that, if implemented, would cause the bank of the Venice canal to fail, according to La Repubblica.