Santiago Calatrava presents infrastructure vision for Sustainable Urbanization to the United Nations

New York City (May 22, 2017) – Architect and engineer Santiago Calatrava delivered the keynote address in the opening session of the United Nations’ “Gateway Portals to the City: Infrastructure for Sustainable Urbanization” conference, which took place at the UN Headquarters. The event – organized by the Consortium for Sustainable Urbanization in association with UN-Habitat and the American Institute of Architects’ New York Chapter – provides members of the UN and other international organizations and private sector representatives, discussion platform to examine the integrative nature of infrastructure in sustainable urbanization.

During his keynote discussion, Calatrava explained his view for how the planning of urban infrastructure can contribute to the improvement, recovery and consolidation of urban spaces, turning them into major attractions that showcase design and urban innovation.

In his presentation, Calatrava showed how some of the projects he developed throughout his career in different cities around the world contributed to this phenomenon. Notable examples of public transportation infrastructure include the railway stations in Liege, Lisbon, Reggio Emilia, New York, Zurich and Lyon, as well as other notable projects that made a positive urban impact, including the City of Arts and Sciences and the awarded-winning Museum of Tomorrow in Rio de Janeiro.

One of the most important interventions carried out by architects is connecting the urban space with infrastructure that reflects the transformation that people desire for their cities,” explained Calatrava.

Large transportation hubs have played key roles in the configuration of spaces throughout history, as proved by the railway stations of the 19th and 20th centuries. Transport interchanges in cities and towns in developing countries are nowadays the focus of a wide variety of economic activity and often form visitors’ first impressions.

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In one of his examples – the railway station Liège-Guillemin – Calatrava discussed how the structure has become, in addition to an important node of transport, a unique cultural center. Through creative architecture, the station houses cultural exhibitions where art from the collection of the city’s Museum of Art is temporarily exhibited, as was the case with La Casa Azul by Marc Chagall or the more recent exhibition of art by Dalí which invite station goers to also visit the Museum.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, UN General Assembly President Peter Thomson, ECOSOC President Frederick Musiiwa Makamure Shava, UCJO President Mpho Parks Tau, and Executive Director of UN-HABITAT Joan Clos attended the opening session of the conference.

This event has enhanced the preparation of the UN’s Political Forum for the follow-up to the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, particularly with respect to Goal 9: “Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.

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