Free Comparative Analysis of Guggenheim Bilbao and Guggenheim New York City Essay Sample

For the comparative architectural analysis sturdy I have decided to choose Guggenheim Bilbao and Guggenheim New York City. These two buildings are related to one another in several aspects. Built in two different countries with totally different ideologies and cultures, by different architects from different backgrounds; they however serve almost the same functions that are mutually phenomenal and emblematic. They both house museums that are massive in both size and sight home to great paintings and cultures. They are visited by billions of visitors annually owing to their state of the art designs. 

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Comparative analysis of Guggenheim Bilbao and Guggenheim NYC


Guggenheim Bilbao and Guggenheim NYC form a perfect option for my comparative analysis due to their unique nature and style of the architects. The two buildings is a home for greatly superior contemporary masterpieces and embody a universal and network of museums around the globe. They have thus played a big role in changing the attitude of most people towards museums. They have thus created a platform of association between architecture, art and even the collection inside.

My analysis will be based on these two very popular buildings as they have contributed to a sole and imperative passion and essence thus inspiring a similarity approach for a deeper analysis.

The structure, Guggenheim Bilbao was designed by Canadian – American architect Frank Gehry in Spain 1997 while Guggenheim New York City was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in New York, Manhattan in 1959. The two buildings though worlds apart have contributed to diffusion of artwork in the whole world. The two buildings have left a big impression on the hearts and minds of those who have visited them. Both museums are currently ever – growing and have ever since gone international focusing on the arts of the 20th Century and beyond .I will therefore examine these two buildings for my comparative analysis and draw illustrations how they communicate similar fundamental facets.

The story behind the state- of- the- art structures

The Guggenheim New York City is situated on the upper east side of New York City; it hosts an art museum that is a home to a vast collection of modern, contemporary and even impressionist arts and often features great exhibitions annually. The building was designed by Wright, Frank Lloyd and was completed in 1959. It is a great piece of architectural art tailored with precision and forms a very important and monumental landmark. Created by one of the greatest of its time architect, it bossy in its elegant looks and commands admiration from the most of unlikely sources. It is simply breath taking! It is a case of an art within an art. The building itself is a fine piece of art and within it holds even greater pieces of art collected to taste and displayed in a blend with the surrounding that makes it look so natural.

The construction of this building was inspired by Solomon Guggenheim who had collected works from non objective artists and was showing them in his apartment but realized that the collection were so vast but had little space for the display. He therefore established the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in 1937. This foundation was formed to promote and encourage education in art and to enlighten the general public.

In 1943, Guggenheim and Rebay realized that their collection had outgrown the original space so they contacted Frank Lloyd Wright so that he could design a structure for their lager collection. The structure took Wright fifteen years in which he had made seven hundred sketches and over six sets of operational designs to actually come up with the museum. One of the designs had a hexagonal plan with no ramps as opposed to the other designs which were circular.

The museum was finally completed in 1959, ten years after Guggenheim had died and six months after the time Wright died.  This was the last work of Lloyd Wright, quite a legacy!  It is a distinctive building that instantly catches the eye as it contrasts the other buildings around by design.

From down the streets, the building tower like a great white ribbon that has been curled around a cylinder. The top of the building is slightly wider compared to its bottom part making it look very unique. The building looks very different from the box-like Manhattan structures that crowd around it resembling a ‘Protestant barn’ as visioned by Wright.

From the inside, the ramp forms a helical spiral that is a little gentle from the main level top the topmost part of the building. The paintings are elegantly on the spiral wall and the annex levels exhibition space. They are hanged on the slanting face of the wall that are a little shallow and windowless and form a gentle concave and slants backward. It actually took a lot of skill to design the building materials in that way and the building still remain rooted! The canvass thus has to be stuck directly onto the wall thus giving it a complicated delicate look. Many artists like Kooning adapted to this style thus creating paintings that were somehow tailor made for this museum since the incorporated the effect of the curving walls making them looks so real with unbelievable twists.

Viewed from a distance, it rises like a warm beige spiral from Fifth Avenue. Its interior looks like the inside of a seashell; it has a precise central geometry whose main aim was to enable the visitors to the museum to have a very nice view of the nonobjective collection of Guggenheim geometric paintings. Visitors take elevators to the topmost part of the building and then view the arts as they slowly descend via the spiral central ramp.

Later in 1992, an adjoining tower was used to supplement the building, it was than the already existing spiral, and this added more visual illusions to the structure and even made it more iconic. Several other renovations have been done but the original fabrics of the structure have been preserved so as to maintain the dreams of the architect Frank Wright. The building has ever been described as that most important piece of art in its own collection most notably by Krens and Lewis.

On the other hand Guggenheim Bilbao is an instant stunner. I hail it as the most important structure of this decade. This was the work of the American architect Frank O. Gehry. The building is so unique in its own way, it has twisted curving lines with several series of volumes that interconnect with some orthogonal and limestone coated. Some other parts are clad with titanium skin a volumes linked with glass walls that allow for transparency.

A lot of mathematical procedures were involved in coming up with a working model and this necessitated the use of computers to aid in the design. Limestone was preferred to other materials due to its color as matching the sandstone facade of the adjacent Duesto University. The glass claddings are placed on a complex metallic grid whose curves were computed by some advanced mathematical formulae. The glass used was specially treated so that it can protect the interior from the solar radiation but allows light into the entire building. The walls are finished to a rough attractive effect bringing in the beautiful aspect.

Inside the building past the foyer, there is the atrium. There are enormous glass walls that offer a spectacular view of the surrounding hills and estuary. The atrium is always present in the works of Gehry. The height is a whooping one and a half times taller than that of Lloyd Wright in New York. The metallic flower that is on the roof provides the inundated light. It serves as a location for holding meetings and houses installations.

It has three floors that stand around this atrium and are interconnected by walkways that are curved and are suspended from the ceiling, stairs and lifts made of glass.

Generally, the design is very spectacular and enormous and acts as a backdrop for the La Salve Bridge

To make the models, Gehry made paper and wooden models in different scales which he later redefined and finally adopted. The curved points were digitally processed and input in the program which was later used to sculptor the materials with exact detail he was able to interpret his design. The presence of the very sophisticated state of the art three dimensional programs enabled for the design to involve fluid forms and also titanium could be used.

The architect behind this great building is considered as one of the greatest in our time and is recognized for his great works and unmistakable architecture based on very new materials in the market such as copper, steel and titanium. He was also keen and very sensitive to the cultures of the location and the visual effects with regards to the surrounding. 

Faces behind these magnificent structures

The great architect behind Guggenheim Bilbao, Frank Gehry was born in Toronto, Ontario in Canada in the year 1929. He learnt at the University of Southern California and Harvard. He established Frank O. Gehry and Associates for his practice in 1963. In 1979, it was succeeded by Gehry and Krueger Inc.

His architecture has taken twists and turns and he evolved from the use of plywood and corrugated sheets to more sophisticated and complex materials such as titanium, special glass and use of great technologies and incorporation of computer aided designs in this field.

He adopted classical themes and reverted to deconstructive aesthetics. He has merged sensuous curving with very complex deconstructive massing thus achieving very appealing results. He has thus become very famous because of his works and personality. The Guggenheim Bilbao gave him the bonus and propelled his career to the very greatest level having won some of the most prestigious awards ever in the field. He has also designed several other equally unique buildings in the world owing to his popular nature.

Frank Lloyd Wright was born in 1867; he was an American architect, interior designer and writer. He has done thousands of designs and completed hundreds of his works. He designed structures that were in harmony with the environment and the humanity surrounding it taking into consideration their cultural practices and tastes often referred to as organic architecture best exemplified by his work on Falling water. He also developed the Usonian home which was one of his unique visions for planning the urban areas in the United States.

Wright also designed several interior elements such as designer furniture and stained glass. He authored several books, thousands of articles and was quite a popular lecturer in Europe. He was recognized in 1991 as America’s greatest architect of all time by the American Institute of Architects.

The Solomon R. Guggenheim is the most recognized of many of Wright’s masterpieces and occupied him for sixteen years. It was worth the struggle since up to now his work is a living testimony of a great architecture he was.

How they tell the same story worlds apart

The two buildings have so many things in common apart from the obvious one that the architects that designed then are namesakes Frank Gehry and Lloyd Frank. This is not just a coincidence but rather a similarity in the different aspect of their designs and purpose the buildings are meant to serve.

Both buildings house museums that are internationally recognized for their vast collection of art work. The arts are also from great personalities in the field including the likes of Picasso. This has led to increased popularity of the two buildings and they house billions of people annually who come to see the great pieces of art. The buildings themselves are also so magnificent that a good percentage of those who visit them are actually interested in viewing the design of the buildings rather than what they contain.

The two buildings are also cultural centers. When Guggenheim established the museum in New York City, he was mainly interested in enlightening the general public on cultural and art studies. He started by collecting arts from the local people and non professionals so that he could display them to further raise the awareness. When the Guggenheim Bilbao was also established, priority was given to the cultural aspect of the local arts. Ever since, they have remained to act as cultural centers.

They act as national historical landmarks since they are very outstanding and are easily recognized. They are also very unique and thus cannot be mistaken. The buildings are very gigantic and are thus visible from various parts of the city. This has aided their use as reference points. They also form part of the skyline of their respective cities since they tower way above other ordinary buildings.

Several scenes in movies and music clips have been made in these two unique buildings due to their magnificence scenery. For instance in the film, Manhattan, Woody Allen and Deane Keaton meet at the museum in New York City. The y have also been used so many times in the covers for magazines. Some animation firms also have used these two buildings in different scenes due to their bold nature and also because they are easily identified.

They also play a major role in letting people appreciate architecture as an art. Their appealing nature has made people to view architecture in a different way and not just as increasing the concrete r cover. The architects have also received several awards because of these buildings such as the Pritzker Architecture Award given to Gehry for the designing of the Guggenheim Bilbao. This has encouraged the young and upcoming architects to dedicate their time to this career.

The buildings apart from the museum also host various conferences; have hotels, commercial premises and also office blocks. These helps in offering all the common services that a client would wish to be offered when he is still in the museum thus this enhances efficiency and convenience in a unique way through architectural design.

The materials that have been used to construct the buildings are also unique in their own sense. The Guggenheim Bilbao was actually designed with the then new materials in the market such as titanium. A lot of precision was injected such that the final building was actually a mega enlargement of the models. This was made a reality through the state of the art technology and a breakthrough in the computer programming in conjunction with architecture and aerodynamics. While that in New York City was the then greatest in the sense that, save for its enormous size, it blended se well with the surrounding in color and texture that although it was to look out of place in design, a single alteration during renovation that saw an inclusion of a more triangular atrium saw it pick the Manhattan look with just a touch.

These buildings have also proved to be the ambassadors of respect to the natural environment in their respective locations. Wright was an organic architect and was often considerate in the environmental issues through his designs and always ensured that they were in harmony. The buildings blend with their environment with ease and this has inspired many other designers to embrace the spirit of conservation and sustainability thus preserving the environment through their designs.

Institutional interest in the project

The picture painted by the two buildings is that of an exceptionally great dedication and skill in this field of sturdy. It actually took a lot of dedication and a never give up attitude for Wright to come up with a model to satisfy his unique taste of an ideal structure to hold a museum of fine art. You remember he did hundreds of sketches and several models to finally arrive at one that pleased him. Unfortunately he never lived to see the structure he worked so hard to design officially open its doors! In several of the models he had made, some lacked even the common ramp in most buildings. The model was functional but he chose to simplify it to just assure the public all is safe.

The buildings have been viewed as some of the greatest masterpieces in the globe, utilizing the best available materials in their construction thus inspiring some of the greatest designs. They have also made people see architecture as one area where there is need for great innovativeness and research into materials. They have also incorporated use of technology and computer programming in the construction sector to ensure precision and sculptor of materials using computer aid. This brings in the interdisciplinary relations that are encouraged for healthy and sustainable development.

In the light of climatic change, the architects took into consideration the various effects of the change in climate and the detrimental effect on buildings. Stained glass and other transparent but treated materials have been used to eliminate the effect of infrared radiation and other harmful ones on the building. This was a challenge to other architectures to view the long term effects of natural elements on structures that are expected to last a long duration of time. It has also helped in the development of the design sector to incorporate the findings of research that have been done by other institutions but have effects in the long run on the buildings.

And lastly, the two buildings were designed with their purpose in mind. The architects thus had specialized equipments and personnel who knew exactly what to do and how thus the buildings had all the expected details. Being a museum, the buildings were made with this in mind and hence themselves are pieces of very fine art. Therefore the institutions and practitioners have currently resorted to constructing buildings that are specific in nature and thus able to take into consideration all the required finer details.


The two buildings though constructed in different countries with totally different climatic and natural conditions, the share so many things in common. The architects are also different and lived in different lifetimes but still they seem to have had the same ideas in mind. Guggenheim Bilbao and Guggenheim New York City are the best ever seen in the history of museum construction.


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