At the age of eight, he enrolled in the Valencia Arts and Crafts School, where he received his first drawing and painting lessons. After completing his secondary education, he enrolled in 1968 in the Valencia School of Fine Arts, in which he studied until 1969. In 1969-1974, he studied Architecture at the Superior Technical School of Architecture in Valencia and went on to postgraduate studies in Urban Planning. He then received his degree in Civil Engineering from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich (1975-1979), followed by a Ph.D. in Technical Sciences at the ETH Department of Architecture (1979-1981). In 1981, he established his first office in Zurich. In 1989, he established an office in Paris and in 1991 in Valencia.
He has received a great number of awards and medals, including the Artists’ Award of the City of Barcelona for the Bach-de-Roda Bridge (1988), the Silver Medal for Research and Technique of the Fondation Academie d’Architecture (1970), the Gold Medal of the London Institute of Structural Engineers (1992), the Gold Medal for Distinction in Fine Arts by the Spanish Ministry of Culture (1996), as well as the Exitos 2000 Award for his Valencia Museum of Sciences (2001). He is a fellow in several universities in Europe and the United States as well as member of many organisations, including the International Architecture Academy (1987), the Royal Institute of British Architects (1993) and the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences (1999).
With wide-ranging interests (architecture, sculpture and design) and drawing inspiration from numerous sources (sculptor Konstantin Brancusi, architect Antonio Gaudi, Gothic art, and above all nature), Santiago Calatrava produces works of imposing aesthetic qualities, which blend harmoniously with their surroundings. Starting from drawing and sculpture, he creates forms which evolve into architectural structures – bridges, airports, railway stations, museums, opera houses – and whose extraordinary, minimal style echoes organic forms. Never opting for functionalism at the expense of aesthetics, and with evident awareness of the construction media, he designs buildings of dynamic forms, distinguished for their harmony and lightness.