Bilbao Airport, Spain

Santiago Calatrava
Date Built
In an article published in the Guardian in November of 2000, Jonathan Glancey said that, "....  Bilbao's magnificent new airport resembles a bird about to take flight. .... Perched on a virgin hillside site, untainted by the usual miasma of support buildings, Santiago Calatrava's operatic design, known locally as la paloma (the dove), is as precious as it is special."

"The departure hall - in the shape of a giant bird about to take flight - is a spectacular space that tries its best to lift passengers into the sky even before they have reached their plane."

"... this is a special building, designed to put a little mystery and magic back into air travel, even after you land: the baggage reclaim hall, with its mesmeric roof of arching concrete ribs, is like an air industry Aladdin's cave."

"The airport, though, does its engaging best to redeem at least a part of the banality of modern air travel. It has a purity of vision that is rare in airport complexes: the four-storey car park, for instance, is tucked into a grassy embankment, out of sight and mind once the car has been abandoned."  As the architect's website explains, "... The terminal is connected by a 100 meters (328 feet) subterranean passageway to a four-story parking garage, which can accommodate 1500 vehicles. The garage is partially recessed into a landscaped rise. In this way, the parking structure is integrated into the complex both functionally and visually, as is too rarely the case at airports."