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  4. United States
  5. Frank Lloyd Wright
  6. 1959
  7. AD Classics: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum / Frank Lloyd Wright

AD Classics: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum / Frank Lloyd Wright

AD Classics: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum / Frank Lloyd Wright
AD Classics: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum / Frank Lloyd Wright

AD Classics: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum / Frank Lloyd Wright AD Classics: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum / Frank Lloyd Wright AD Classics: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum / Frank Lloyd Wright Courtesy of Creative Commons - Flickr +10

  • Architects

  • Location

    East Dr, New York, NY 10128, United States
  • Architect

    Frank Lloyd Wright
  • References

    http://www.TIME.com/ and Knight, Caroline. Frank Lloyd Wright. Parragon Publishing, 2005. Print
  • Project Year

    1959
  • Photographs

    Courtesy of Creative Commons - Flickr

From the architect. Swelling out towards the city of Manhattan, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum was the last major project designed and built by Frank Lloyd Wright between 1943 until it opened to the public in 1959, six months after his death, making it one of his longest works in creation along with one of his most popular projects. Completely contrasting the strict Manhattan city grid, the organic curves of the museum are a familiar landmark for both art lovers, visitors, and pedestrians alike.

The exterior of the Guggenheim Museum is a stacked white cylinder of reinfored concrete swirling towards the sky. The museum's dramatic curves of the exterior, however, had an even more stunning effect on the interior. Inside Wright proposed "one great space on a continuous floor," and his concept was a success. 

Plan
Plan

Walking inside, a visitor's first intake is a huge atrium, rising 92' in height to an expansive glass dome. Along the sides of this atrium is a continuous ramp uncoiling upwards six stories for more than one-quarter of a mile, allowing for one floor to flow into another. The ramp also creates a procession in which a visitor experiences the art displayed along the walls as they climb upwards towards the sky.

Courtesy of Creative Commons - Flickr
Courtesy of Creative Commons - Flickr

The design of the museum as one continuous floor with the levels of ramps overlooking the open atrium also allowed for the interaction of people on different levels, enhancing the design in section.

Section
Section

Although the space within the building is undeniably majestic and the building itself monumental, it was not perfectly successful in terms of function. The curved walls of the interior were intended so that paintings had to be tilted backward, "as on the artist's easel." This was unsuccessful because the paintings were still very difficult to display because of the concavity of the walls, and because of this before its opening 21 artists signed a letter protesting about their display of work in such a space.

Many critics also argue that the building competes with the art work that is intended to be displayed, a problem which Museum Director James Johnson Sweeney took seriously, stating, "This is the most spectacular museum interior architecturally in this country. But my job is to show off a magnificent collection to its fullest. Wright also had a problem with Manhattan's building-code administrators who argued with him over structural issues, such as the glass dome that had to be reduced in size and redesigned to include concrete ribs that are extensions of the discreet structural pillars on the exterior walls.

Courtesy of Creative Commons - Flickr
Courtesy of Creative Commons - Flickr

In 1992 the museum built an addition that was designed by Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects that Wright had originally intended. The architects analyzed Wright's original sketches and from his ideas they created a 10-story limestone tower that had flat walls that were more appropriate for the display of art.

Between 2005-2008 the Guggenheim Museum went under an exterior renovation where eleven coats of paint were removed from the original surface and revealed many cracks due to climatic reasons. This revelation led to extensive research in the testing of potential repair materials, as well as the restoration of the exterior.

Despite the opinion of critics, there is no doubt that Wright's design for the Guggenheim Museum provides a spatial freedom that is unique to his style. It took Wright 700 sketches and six sets of working drawings to turn his vision into an extraordinary sculpture of a building overlooking Central Park, that in the very least should be acknowledged as one of the most spatially beautiful International-style works of architecture.

This building is part of our Architecture City Guide: New York. Check all the other buildings on this guide right here.

Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address. Cite: Adelyn Perez. "AD Classics: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum / Frank Lloyd Wright" 18 May 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed . <http://www.archdaily.com/60392/ad-classics-solomon-r-guggenheim-museum-frank-lloyd-wright/>
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18 Comments

tony le nervuré · September 27, 2016

gaetang le muscle

tony le nervuré · September 27, 2016 02:53 PM

tristan tg stp

Connor Willey · November 28, 2012

The most astonishing fact to me is how badly FLW wanted the spiral center to be the driving force behind the museum. The exterior shape changed multiple times and went through 7 working drawings, but the central spiral remained largely unchanged. The beginning rectilinear facade is nothing like the current curving twirls. The idea of a single floor for the entire museum stayed true to the end.

Tika Laras Kusuma · June 24, 2012
Stephanie L Davis · March 14, 2012

RT @sofitelnyc: This week&#39s architecture highlight for visitors is @Guggenheim: http://t.co/S4HO23SS via @ArchDaily #architecture

Sofitel New York · March 14, 2012

This week&#39s architecture highlight for visitors is @Guggenheim: http://t.co/pmqAGvmR via @archdaily #architecture

wolfram koch · January 01, 2011

AD Classics: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum / Frank Lloyd Wright | ArchDaily http://t.co/XP2Hfzt via @archdaily

Tana Gegen · May 25, 2010

""one great space on a continuous floor": Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum / Frank Lloyd Wright | ArchDaily"( http://twitthis.com/zvrtag )

Michael Baugus · May 19, 2010

AD Classics: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum / Frank Lloyd Wright | ArchDaily http://bit.ly/btL8LW

Francisco Valverde · May 19, 2010

#Arquitectura - Guggenheim Museum / Frank Lloyd Wright http://bit.ly/ainKSa

Mies van der Rohe · May 19, 2010

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum / Frank Lloyd Wright http://bit.ly/cqWVMR He was a douche, but a great architect nonetheless.

James Droske · May 19, 2010

http://trunc.it/81wm8 my fav building ever

flwright · May 19, 2010

Rather than "climb upwards toward the sky," Wright actually intended that visitors would take the elevator to the top floor and cascade down the ramps to view the exhibits. This approach also left HIS art work (the Guggenheim atrium) as the last piece of art that the patrons experience before exiting.

I'm unsure if the curators actually design their exhibitions in this fashion nor if the visitors visit from bottom-up or top-down. Nonetheless, the Guggenheim is a fantastic building no matter how you experience the space!

Nanette · May 20, 2010 05:18 PM

Once I visited, the Frank Lloyd Wright exhibition was organised from bottom-up. Maybe nowadays it would be impossible to move those crowds up with the elevator. When this museum was built, much less people were visiting.

Lenita Pimentel · May 19, 2010

Reading: "AD Classics: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum / Frank Lloyd Wright | ArchDaily"( http://twitthis.com/zvrtag )

andre · May 18, 2010

loving these classics!! keep it up!!

Ajani · May 18, 2010

So classic.

The Guggenheim is one of the greatest!

silvia · May 18, 2010

RT @archdaily: AD Classics: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum / Frank Lloyd Wright http://archdai.ly/bcmSug

Genie · May 18, 2010

RT @archdaily: AD Classics: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum / Frank Lloyd Wright http://archdai.ly/bcmSug

Stefan Jackson · May 18, 2010

RT @archdaily: AD Classics: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum / Frank Lloyd Wright http://archdai.ly/bcmSug

···

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