Published: December 2010

The Big Idea: Biomimetic Architecture

Gaudi Architecture

Gaudí’s Masterpiece

When the pope said Mass there this fall, the Sagrada Família was already 128 years in the making—and still not finished. Yet the church’s nature-inspired design remains ahead of its time.

By Jeremy Berlin
Photograph by Stephen Chao

"My client is not in a hurry," Antoni Gaudí used to say. The pious architect was speaking of God, explaining why the Roman Catholic Sagrada Família church was taking so long to complete. Nearly a century later it remains a work in progress—a dream of spires and ornate facades rising hundreds of feet above downtown Barcelona, drawing the eyes (and euros) of some two million visitors a year. This November Pope Benedict XVI consecrated it as a basilica. A final completion date of 2026 appears likely. And if history begets history, the time is ripe to reappraise Gaudí's epic endeavor—and the prescient ideas behind it.

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