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Worth the trip: Santiago Calatrava’s IST Building at Florida Polytechnic University

*Featured image via Google Street View

Driving I-4 on any given day is a white-knuckle turbo-hymn. So, if you are ever in that flat cow land swathe after passing Lakeland heading toward Orlando, glancing to your right, you may ask yourself, “What is that?” Rubber neck no more because it’s Florida Polytechnic University.


Now, if you happen to be staring at a white fish-scaled structure, well, that is The Innovation, Science, and Technology building at Florida Polytechnic University. And the unique filigree palace that houses this university’s main hub happens to be the unmistakable architecture of Dr. Santiago Calatrava.

City of Arts & Sciences in Valencia, Spain || Photo by Dexter Fabian for That’s So Tampa

Why is Calatrava so Special

Calatrava’s architectural style has been referred to as “illegible nature,” “Dinobots” or even “skeletons of sea urchins,” but this unique Spanish architect has designed some of the most iconic museums, stations, and stadiums across the world. Notably, the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, Spain and the Museum of Tomorrow in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The Oculus, New York City || Photo by Ysanne Taylor for That’s So Tampa

Most recently, Calatrava designed the WTC Hub in New York, which has been dubbed “The Oculus” by most. Calatrava designed the building to look like a dove flying from the hands of a child to commemorate the loss of life during the September 11th attacks.


Calatrava in Florida

Dr. Calatrava found his way to Florida when he was given free rein to design the main building for this new tech-centered university. The Spaniard did not disappoint as the finished product was named one of the “16 most beautiful structures in the world“.

In the end, he designed a 162,000-square-foot eye-shaped structure encased by multiple fern-like pergolas with a louvered roof system that adjusts according to the angle of the sun.

Beneath this roof is the school’s library that is 100% digital. That’s right, not a single hardcover book to be found.

We highly recommend taking a walk around this structure and admiring the beauty of it. Many of the Polytechnic students bring longboards as the area is perfect for a relaxing skate.

Florida Polytechnic is located at 4700 Research Way, Lakeland, FL.


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