Some Design Projects take 150 Years to Complete

Last week I talked about the relationship between time, cost, and scope. Every project considers these three factors. One of the most extreme cases I am aware of in our modern day is a cathedral in Barcelona, Spain called the Sagrada Familia. The construction of this building began in 1882 under the direction of famous architect Antoni Gaudi. It still is not finished. According to 85-year-old Jordi Bonet, the current chief architect of the Sagrada Familia, this is a common custom for cathedrals of this caliber.

For example, the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris began construction in 1163 and was not finished in it’s current form until 1345. 182 years. Bonet promised to have the Spanish basilica finished by 2026, the 100 year anniversary of Gaudi’s death. This would get the project complete in just under 150 years.

The time and cost of this project is obviously immense. The effect of inflation over the last 130 years makes calculating the exact cost practically futile. According to the trusty source Wikipedia, the construction budget for Sagrada Familia in 2009 was 18 million euros (24.3 million dollars). The approximate annual budget is now up to 25 million euros (33.75 million dollars).

The scope of this project is being called into question by many, arguing that perhaps the cathedral should not be finished at all since it’s incomplete status has been part of the public attraction over the years. But Gaudi appeared to have an even larger scope in mind then most of us consider. In addressing the lengthy time necessary to finish the Sagrada Familia, Goudi famously responded, “My Client is in no hurry”.