Sagrada Familia: A Work in Progress

Have you ever visited the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona?

The Sagrada Familia is my favorite building in the world. As the masterpiece of the eccentric architect Antoni Gaudí, this church has a look unlike any other building on earth. It’s what you expect a Martian Cathedral to look like. However, what amazes me the most is the time and effort that has gone into the building’s construction. Started in 1882, the Sagrada Familia is not scheduled for completion until the late 2020s. In an age where managers want things done “yesterday”, a century-and-a-half-long project is almost unimaginable. The Sagrada Familia can teach us a thing or two about patience, especially when it comes to long-term projects.


Antoni Gaudí was all about the details. That’s one of the reasons why the building has taken so long to construct. Almost every square inch of the building is decorated, with massive towers covered in mosaic. Though it was another famous architect, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, that said that “God is in the details”, Gaudí was the architect who made the details work for him.


Gaudí’s design was more than skin deep. He spent a lot of time thinking about the underlying structure. He liked curves that imitated the natural world, and tried to make his designs fit in with the laws of nature. For example, to model his arches, he hung chains from the ceiling, then flipped the shape upside-down. In fact, modern architects have to use computers to understand his design.


Of course, the Sagrada Familia has had more than its share of delays over the years, most notably the Spanish Civil War. During those turbulent times, Catalan anarchists damaged not only the basilica itself, but also Gaudí’s plans for it. Construction also languished under the fascist regime of Francisco Franco. But even now, in a peaceful, democratic Spain, the church has still had its share of troubles. Just a few months ago, a madman set fire to the crypt, tacking a couple of years onto the completion date. Nevertheless, construction continues. There are too many people who care about the building to see it remain uncompleted forever.

Whenever you’re about to start a big project, you’d do well to think of the Sagrada Familia. Good things take time. If you want to create something great, you have to remember to put care into the design, attend to the details, and prepare for delays. Just don’t use it as an excuse for procrastination. Real artists ship, and despite the delays, the Sagrada Familia has made progress. So next time your big project stalls, remember how long it’s taken to build the Sagrada Familia. Be inspired by this Wonder of the World. Then go create your own.

Steve Lovelace

Steve Lovelace is a writer and graphic artist. After graduating Michigan State University in 2004, he taught Spanish in Samoa before moving to Dallas, Texas. He blogs regularly at

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