Blurred Lines…

The Guggenheim, already a world-renowned institution, was propelled in the stratosphere with the opening of its Frank Gehry-designed Bilbao institution.

© commons.wikimedia.org

© commons.wikimedia.org

The architect took his talent for sensuous and curved titanium materials and applied it in ways we had never seen.  Along the way, it also put Bilbao, Spain on the map in the world of cultural institutions.  And even though Gehry adapted his trademark look for Walt Disney’s Concert Hall in Los Angeles, nothing could approach the groundbreaking look of his Guggenheim original.  Imagine then the skipped heartbeats that took place when the famed museum launched a search for someone to design its latest location–in Helsinki, Finland.

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Gehry’s Spruce Street building in New York City.
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Kudos belong to the winner Moreau Kusonoki Architects which managed the same feat Gehry did but only by going in a completely different direction–that of understated, minimal elegance.  Taking local materials and the Scandinavian art of simple, minimalist lines, Kusonoki’s winning design becomes part of the Finnish landscape, blending harmoniously in her surroundings.  I’m counting the days to its opening so I can visit and experience first-hand this achievement.

© cnn.com

© cnn.com

© guggenheim.org

© guggenheim.org

The Philadelphia Museum of Art has struck not gold…but titanium.

The City of Brotherly Love has bragging rights to one of the world’s greatest art museums and its about to undergo a 10-year expansion project–overseen by none other than Frank Gehry himself.  The renovation will vastly expand the museum’s space and features a tremendous underground construction project.

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The famed architect will create a series of exhibition halls lit by natural light but the ultimate question on everyone’s mind is, of course, will the new space feature the architect’s signature curved titanium hallmarks, so brilliantly used in the Guggenheim’s Bilbao outpost or L.A.’s Disney Concert Hall ?  It’s too soon to tell but there is a new exhibition devoted to the project opening 1 July called “Making a Classic Modern: Frank Gehry’s Master Plan for the Philadelphia Museum of Art.”

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Rendering © Gehry Partners, LLP

The fact it has been decades since any modern architecture…

…has been designed and built in Havana, Cuba is a dual-edged sword, both a blessing and a curse.  The latter is problematic since what makes an urban area thrive is the constant and consistent introduction of new buildings, businesses and public spaces–assuming, of course, they are all worthy of fruition.  The former, many would argue, is exactly why Havana retains a genuine, old-world charm.  The city, although crumbling in many areas and poor, in many way still succeeds because that charm cannot be manufactured or duplicated with a nondescript, cookie-cutter skyline which characterizes many other places around the world.  And one of its most noteworthy examples is Edificio Bacardi at Avenida de Bélgica No. 261, between Empedrado y San Juan de Dios.  Although the company, now officially known as The Bacardi-Martini Group, is no longer headquartered in the country, it’s building still stands as both a tribute to grand architecture and one of the world’s most famous and iconic logos–the silhouette of the bat which adorns its bottles sits triumphantly atop the building.

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World-renowned and Pritzker Prize-winning architect Frank Gehry…

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…admired for the sensuous curves of titanium which form the outer skin of the Guggenheim Museum’s Bilbao location along with the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, has consistently managed to surprise and impress over his long and storied career.

One of his most recent creations is New York City’s Beekman Tower, the tallest residential tower in the world.  From a distance, the building seems out-of-place and its surface appears as if something has gone horribly wrong.  It’s only as you get closer you realize Gehry has introduced his trademark curved metal as the tower’s exterior.  Upon closer inspection still do you fully realize and appreciate the enormous complexity of engineering involved–that of undulating water being poured from an unseen source above.  It’s a building so exquisite, in fact, the first reaction you have will be that of shivers down your spine.  To continue reading the Architecture page, click here.

Barcelona…

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…for many years was unjustifiably perceived as the impetuous little sister to the older and wiser Madrid.  That changed, virtually overnight in fact, with the 1992 Olympic Summer Games which helped propel Spain’s capital of Catalonia into the ranks of the world’s greatest cities.  Its growth and cosmopolitan persona have rapidly continued since then.

Nothing can announce a city’s arrival on the global stage faster or with more aplomb than a world-class building from a world-class architect.  Barcelona took a tremendous risk but ultimately hit a home run with Jean Nouvel.  The Pritzker Prize-winning, French architect created a beautiful gem of a building when he designed Torre Agbar for the city.  Located in the tech neighborhood between Avinguda Diagonal and Carrer Badajoz, the tower’s concrete-and-glass exterior resembles ripples of water.  At night, an LED design illuminates the structure with myriad, subtle displays.  It’s a building whose entirely modern design might seem completely out-of-place in such a city as old and historic as Barcelona.  Nothing, however, can be further from the truth as Torre Agbar gives Barcelona a modern skyline while simultaneously paying homage to the city’s favorite if not controversial son, Antoni Gaudi.  To continue reading the Architecture page, click here.