Saturday, March 27, 2010

Destination: Train Station

When the latest issue of Architectural Record arrived in the mail, I paged through it fully prepared to find the usual array of stunning buildings and public spaces in locations I would be unlikely to ever visit. But after seeing the photos of the new Santiago Calatrava-designed Liège-Guillemins TGV Railway Station in Liège, Belgium and googling to find it was only an hour from Brussels where I was going the following week.. and bingo, I hit the jackpot!

And so on March 10 I boarded a train for my first trip planned entirely around seeing a building (I've made my share of pilgrimages for Frank Lloyd Wright, Gaudi and Hundertwasser to be sure, but they weren't the impetus for the trip). The building was as spectacular in person as in the magazine photos, and even more impressive when you see it in the context of the small brick buildings of the surrounding city. On the outside, it looks like a giant spaceship ready to take off, perhaps more what you'd expect for an airport. The inside evokes a soaring cathedral.

With a few hours to spare before my return train, I hopped in a cab to visit the Grand Curtius, which re-opened about a year ago after a 50 million euro redevelopment. The building is an imposing red brick and stone structure overlooking the Meuse River, built in the early 1600s as a private mansion for Jean Curtius, industrialist and munitions supplier to the Spanish army. I was delighted to find beautifully designed gallery spaces with interesting archeology, weaponry, decorative art and religious art collections, most with informative descriptions in English.

On the ride back to the station, we passed a beautiful sculpture of a diver soaring over the river.

Definitely a worthwhile day trip!

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