The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao is majestic, outstanding, remarkable, iconic. When you drive from the airport into town through La Salve Bridge you can’t help but admire the museum curves, the sinuosity of its form, the light reflected in its surfaces.
Many people think that the building changed the city. Many people claim that Bilbao started to attract tourists because of the building, that the Guggenheim created some sort of magical effect due to its astonishing architecture.
In an interview in 2017, Frank Gehry, the architect who designed the Guggenheim, said: “I spent a lot of time making the building relate to the 19th century street module and then it was on the river, with the history of the river, the sea, the boats coming up the channel. It was a boat.”
Ghery worked hard to connect the building with the surroundings, to integrate it into Bilbao’s cultural heritage, history and environment.
When you stand in front of the Guggenheim you see an incredible building, one of the most emblematic of the twentieth century, but what made it remarkable was its connection to the city as part of a vision to regenerate Bilbao.
A building can be replicated, but the effect that it produces when you view it cannot be imitated. We can replicate products, buildings, artefacts, gadgets, but not an experience. When you build something that brings connection you set yourself apart.