Santiago Calatrava in a model of a living room at the sales center of The Chicago Spire on Sept. 26, 2007.

Santiago Calatrava in a model of a living room at the sales center of The Chicago Spire on Sept. 26, 2007.

Credit: Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

The Record in New Jersey reports that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey paid architect Santiago Calatrava, AIA, half a million dollars in 2012 for designs for two bridges connecting Staten Island, N.Y. to New Jerseydesigns that we can't see and will not be realized.

For two bridge projects a few years back, Calatrava reportedly received behind-the-scenes help from two commissioners, developer David Steiner and engineering firm PS&S president Anthony Sartor. Steiner and Sartor are supposed to provide Port Authority oversight.

One of the two bridges, a replacement for the 1928 Goethals Bridge, would connect Staten Island to Elizabeth, N.J. According to the article, Calatrava's proposal for the Goethals bridge project came after a cable-stayed design was already underway: The Port Authority awarded NYNJ Link Partnership the $1.5 billion contract for that cable-stayed design last April. The Record article also notes that Calatrava submitted plans for the Othmar Ammann–designed Bayonne Bridge, completed in 1931, that connects Staten Island to Bayonne, N.J.

It sounds like we can't see the Calatrava designs, though, unless he lets us. The article says that in 2011, the Port Authority offered $500,000 for design rights, which he refused. The following July he agreed to that amount, but retained the copyright to the designs. The Port Authority can spend up to this amount without a public vote from the commissioners.

The opera house at twilight in Valencia, Spain on Oct. 5, 2005.

The opera house at twilight in Valencia, Spain on Oct. 5, 2005.

Credit: Fernando Bustamante/Associated Press

This is not Calatrava's first time making headlines over controversies. According to The New York Times, his Queen Sofía Palace of the Arts in Valencia, Spain, was forced to temporarily close in December after tiles on the structure started falling off from strong winds. The city's overall City of Arts and Sciences project has cost three to four times what it was budgeted for. As an earlier article in the Times observes: "It is hard to find a Calatrava project that has not been significantly over budget."

A 2005 artist's rendering provided by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey shows the planned World Trade Center transit hub by Calatrava.

A 2005 artist's rendering provided by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey shows the planned World Trade Center transit hub by Calatrava.

Credit: Port Authority of New York and New Jersey/Associated Press

Calatrava's 800,000 square foot World Trade Center Transportation Hub going up in Manhattan is scheduled to be finished next year. He also designed the soon-to-be-completed Innovation, Science and Technology Building at Florida Polytechnic University, which will open in August.

Bridges are also an important chunk of Calatrava's portfolio. His Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge opened in Dallas in 2012, the same year as his Peace Bridge in Calgary, Canada.