Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Santiago Calatrava bails on DIA expansion: Paging Curt Fentress!

Let's hope Mayor Michael Hancock has Curt Fentress's number on speed dial. The Denver architect was brought in to fix Denver International Airport before it ever got off the ground decades ago, and the expansion plans he crafted back then could be looking very good now that starchitect Santiago Calatrava has bailed.

Earlier this week, the Denver Post reports, DIA Manager Kim Day received this message from Robertina Calatrava, business manager for her husband:

Santiago and I have come sadly to the conclusion that Santiago Calatrava/Festina Lente must withdraw from the project... From our perspective as the design professionals, the project still lacks sufficient funding, particularly dollars for the hard-cost components of the project. It continues to set an unrealistic schedule with little or no room to develop and consolidate the design in keeping with the standards and quality of a Calatrava signature design.

The DIA expansion project, which has already consumed two years and close to $13 million in fees to Calatrava, involves creating a second, south terminal for DIA to accommodate increased air traffic, as well as a light rail station.

When Fentress was called in to fix the sagging DIA project, he came up with an expansion plan that would play off the iconic terminal he designed; he still has a model of that proposal in his office on Broadway. After DIA opened, Fentress's career really took off, too; he's since designed airports around the world. But when Day decided to get serious about expanding the airport, she looked beyond Denver... all the way to Spain, and Calatrava.

Now that he's jumped ship, let's hope Hancock has Fentress's number -- and that our homegrown starchitect is still willing to take Denver's call.

More from our Calhoun: Wake-Up Call archive: "Thomas Hornsby Ferril House is part of Denver's history -- and could be history."

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun