The Guggenheim Bilbao

Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is rightly called one of the most important buildings of the twentieth century. With Andy as one of two owner’s representatives of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, the project was also a future touchstone for the formation of Paratus. This project underscored the importance of a program to guide a project from its ambitious intention to a completed building.

The Basque authorities were deeply committed to the redevelopment of Bilbao when they approached the foundation; the museum was just one of many civic projects planned to transform this industrial city. Three teams including F. O. Gehry Architects, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Basques were equal partners in accomplishing the project, and each party looked out for the other’s interests. It was a perfect team. Gehry respected the Basques budget and the Guggenheim’s program, while the Basques defended Gehry’s design, and then Guggenheim director Tom Krens guided the art, artists, and design throughout the entire process.

This building represents the results of unprecedented cooperation. It is a stellar example of how a high-profile building can accommodate both a vision and a demanding program. Creative and responsible owners like the Basques are made even better stewards with foresight. That Bilbao and the world have fully embraced Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum, with nearly one million visitors per year, shows just how far-seeing their vision was.

Architect:  Frank Gehry

Location:  Bilbao, Spain

Gross Square Footage:  256,000

Completion Date:  1997