Design + Architecture

The Visionaries

by Suzanne Wales

FRANK GEHRY

The vision: Architecture that's disjointed and exuberantly expressive, often clad in gleaming titanium

Claim to fame: The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is the benchmark of Canada-born Frank Gehry's career. In 1997, this jaw-dropping structure transformed an unknown industrial Spanish town that had fallen on hard times into an internationally recognizable destination. The Guggenheim Bilbao's colossal, titanium-clad dimensions grace the Nervión's riverbank like an ocean liner from a futurist's sketchbook, reflecting the building's graceful contours in the muddy water below. Inside, it's difficult to spot a right angle in the echoing exhibition halls, as if it were sculptured from putty rather than concrete and steel. Ten years later, this extraordinary edifice has lost none of its wow factor and remains (as the famous architecture critic Paul Goldberger dubbed it) the first great building of the 21st century. It was one of the first of a series of knockout new projects to appear all over the city, from Norman Foster's metro stations to Santiago Calatrava's Campo Volantin footbridge.

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
Tel: 34 94 435 90 80

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