Starchitects, Bridges, Drought: What's Ruining Our Cities This Week

Starchitects don't build 'em like they used to—and now one's getting sued for it. Chris Christie remains in troubled waters over a bridge. And if you thought the Polar Vortex was bad, how about the looming Emergency Drought? It's all this week in What's Ruining Our Cities.

Starchitecture is ruining Valencia, Spain

The City of Arts and Sciences was supposed to be to Valencia what the Guggenheim was to Bilbao: A big-ticket, high-end attraction that would lure tourists from all over the world to admire its art and design. But it turns out starchitecture will only get you so far in life these days. The city is suing architect Santiago Calatrava because the project—which already cost an outrageous $1 billion—is falling apart. Of most concern are mosaic tiles over a sagging metal wall: "These have started to ripple into wrinkles, transforming what started out looking like cool, pristine enamel into something closer to well-used bed sheets." That's not the only architecture problem for the city, which paid for a shiny new airport that has never welcomed a single plane. [Atlantic Cities]

A bridge closure ruined the entire New York/Newark Metropolitan Area

New Jersey governor Chris Christie continues to take serious heat for maybe possibly having knowledge about a politically motivated closure of the George Washington Bridge last September. Two out of three lanes were closed, which snarled traffic on the first day of school and may have caused the premature death of a 91-year-old woman in an ambulance. Christie is trying to both deflect the blame and admit that "mistakes were made," but some aren't accepting the apology. How we know he's screwed: When you're the subject of a Bruce Springsteen parody song, you know New Jersey will quickly be turning against you. [Gawker]

Drought is ruining basically all of California

A wildfire is burning outside of Los Angeles in the middle of winter, Yosemite is offering "Juneuary" hiking packages since there's no snow for cross-country skiing, and there's no precipitation in sight. California Governor Jerry Brown is set to declare a drought emergency to seek federal funds which could help the state access additional water for its strained reservoirs, some of which are at a third of their capacity after the driest year on record. "The Folsom Reservoir near Sacramento is so low that the remains of a Gold Rush-era ghost town—flooded to create the lake in the 1950s—are visible for the first time in years." We're fucked. [Reuters]

Photo by Diliff