A member of the competition jury that in 1999 selected the US architect Peter Eisenman to design a monumental cultural complex in Santiago de Compostela, northwest Spain, has called the decision “an expensive mistake. Probably one of the largest in the history of architecture.” The sprawling City of Culture, which includes a planned international art centre and a museum among its six buildings, is €292m over budget and eight years late, according to our sister paper Il Giornale dell’Arte.

Wilfried Wang, the professor in architecture at the University of Texas, in Austin, said: “I was the sole voice on the competition jury voting against the Eisenman design. Any other competition design is also likely to have gone over budget, but it would have been completed by now.”

The 150,000 sq. m cultural complex, which is built into the side of Mount Gaiás, was originally due to be completed in 2002 at an estimated cost of €108m. The budget then increased to €400m, with the Galician regional government the sole funder. “If Eisenman’s scheme were ever to be completed, it would probably cost some €1.2bn,” said Wang. “Had my colleagues been as honest as I was, and as critical, we could have saved the Galician and Spanish taxpayers some €800m.” But another member of the jury, Kurt Forster, said the plan was grand and farsighted.


Gareth Harris and Roberta Bosco
The Art Newspaper