With his design, that is both visually striking and structurally daring, Calatrava puts the joy back into contemporary travel.
The steel and concrete structure , nicknamed La Paloma (the Dove) because of its resemblance to a giant bird about to take flight, is integrated into the hilly green landscape in the Txoriherri Valley in close proximity to Bilbao. The aluminium skin of the Central Terminal sweeps across the 140 meter long terminal entry, providing cover for multiple levels of arrival and departure.
The passengers reach the aircrafts by way of the Departure Hall, a soaring structure awash with daylight, and the four-storey Departure Gallery beyond that connects to the concourse,an aluminium wing reminiscent of an aircraft skin, that contain twelve passenger terminal gates.
The Departure Hall, with its ribbed concrete wings, is clear of visual clutter. Struts and wires cast changing patterns of striated shadows on the walls and granite floor.
The layout was designed to limit the impact of auxiliary buildings on the vista of the main building. An elegant four-story parking structure, with a skylit walkway leading to the Terminal Building, is tucked into a grassy embankment.
Calatrava also designed the Bilbao Zubi Zuri, or “white bridge,” over the Nervion River, that links a rundown but rejuvenating commercial area with an elegant residential neighborhood. The glass deck is illuminated from the underside at night.