ROME: An Italian court this month ordered one of the world’s leading architects to pay damages to Venice for negligently building a bridge that failed to take into account “what everyone understands” about the city – that it has a ton of tourists with luggage.
The five judges on a Roman court overseeing the use of public funds ruled on August 6 that Santiago Calatrava, the Spanish-Swiss architect globally renowned for his sleek and curved designs, had committed “macroscopic negligence” in constructing the glass-and-steel bridge that opened near Venice’s train station in 2008. They fined him 78,000.
Calatrava’s lawyers declined to comment on Friday or respond to questions about whether they would appeal the decision. The court said that the bridge required constant maintenance unforeseen in Calatrava’s plans and that those problems were predictable given Venice’s well-known tourism problem. They said the lack of foresight raised doubts about Calatrava’s judgment. T he luggage tourists wheel over a canal at the station has taken a toll on the bridge, especially on the glass panels that form part of its steps. Calatrava’s original plans estimated that the steps would require replacement every 20 years. But within four years after its opening, the city needed to substitute eight of them for a cost of 36,000.
The bridge also drew complaints for its lack of grip. When it rained, its sloped glass floor turned into a Slip ‘N Slide.