When it comes to Santiago Calatrava's City of Arts and Sciences complex in Valencia, the news just keeps getting worse. The latest episode involves the Queen Sofía Palace of the Arts, "which has been closed since last month because of a risk of falling tiles" from its mosaic facade, reports Raphael Minder. This week, construction workers are to begin removing the opera house's entire facade.
The massive complex was supposed to help the architect's native city become an architectural showpiece. Instead, the gleaming white campus has become a financial albatross for the city and a dark spot on Calatrava's reputation.
"Mr. Calatrava covered the opera house with thousands of tiny mosaic tiles, using a technique made famous over a century earlier by Antoni Gaudí in Barcelona," explains Minder. "But the Valencia authorities threatened to sue Mr. Calatrava last month after chunks fell off in high winds, forcing the closing of the building ahead of Christmas performances and the cancellation next month of Puccini’s 'Manon Léscaut,' directed by Plácido Domingo."
"Instead of replacing the mosaic tiles, the building is to be painted white, at least as a temporary solution to allow the opera to reopen and resume its season late next month," he adds.