GUGGENHEIM MUSEUM, Bilbao, Spain
About the museum
The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is located in Bilbao, Basque Country, Spain. It is a museum of modern and contemporary art, designed by Canadian-American architect Frank O Gehry. The museum features permanent and visiting exhibits of works by Spanish and international artists.The museum has been established on October 18, 1997.The Guggenheim museum connects the estuary to the city’s classical district, “Ensanche”. It is built alongside the Nervion River, which runs through the city of Bilbao to the Atlantic Coast. The Guggenheim museum belongs to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation which had built several other Guggenheim Museums situated in New York, Venice, Berlin and Abu Dhabi other than Spain. This one was called to be the “an astonishing architectural feat”.
•Central atrium with galleries interconnected by a system of curved walkways suspended in the ceiling
•20 galleries at 3 levels: Some of classical proportions, others of unusual irregularity and yet designed for the exhibition of large- sized art works
•Close harmony between the architectural spaces
•Non exhibition spaces include auditorium, book store and café.
•Innovatively designed architectural landmark.
•Twisted curvilinear planes.
•Series of interconnecting volumes.
•Clad in metal titanium skin showing organic volume.
- Titanium panels hugging large part of the buildings.
- Limestone Coated orthogonal forms.
- Sinuous stone, glass, titanium curves were designed with the aid of computers.
- 50 m height atrium is the heart of the museum, flooded with light through large windows.
- Exhibition space is distributed into 3 levels.
The curves on the exterior of the building were intended to appear random; the architect said that “the randomness of the curves are designed to catch the light”.
The interior is designed around a large atrium which is filled with light and the views of Bilbao’s estuary and the surrounding hills of the Basque country. The atrium, which Gehry named The Flower because of its shape, serves as the organizing center of the museum.
The museum is seamlessly integrated into the urban context, unfolding its interconnecting shapes of stone, glass and titanium on a 32,500 square-meter site along the Nervión River in the old industrial heart of the city.
It looks modest from street level but most impressive when viewed from the river. With a total 256,000 square feet, it had more exhibition space than the three Guggenheim collections in New York and Venice combined at that time.
11,000 square meters of exhibition space are distributed over nineteen galleries, ten of which follow a classic orthogonal plan that can be identified from the exterior by their stone finishes. The remaining nine galleries are irregularly shaped and can be identified from the outside by their swirling organic forms and titanium cladding. The largest gallery, measures 30 m wide and 130 m long.
Some of the criticism Gehry’s work has received are :
•The buildings waste structural resources by creating functionless forms.
•The buildings are apparently designed without accounting for the local climate.
•The spectacle of a building often overwhelms its intended use, especially in the case of museums and arenas.
•The buildings do not seem to belong in their surroundings.
•The buildings are often unfriendly towards disabled people. For example,The Art Gallery of Ontario had removed most ramps.
•Complex and innovative designs like Gehry’s typically go over budget.
•Some have even described Gehry as a “one-trick pony” and an “auto-plagiarist”, referring to the similarity in style some of his buildings share.
•MIT sued Frank Gehry’s architecture firm claiming design and construction failures in its State Center which has developed cracks, leaks and other problems.
But with so many pros and cons, this building is still;one of the most extraordinary and remarkable piece of architecture which will be seen by viewer’s forever.
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