Gehry Partners’ transcendent Guggenheim Museum Bilbao design has been named the winner of the prestigious American Institute of Architects Twenty-five Year Award in honor of its unprecedented economic impact and lasting architectural legacy as one of the most storied and influential contemporary cultural buildings in the Western world.
Finally completed after a somewhat remarkable construction phase that lasted seven total years, the museum opened in October of 1997 to considerable acclaim internationally while garnering recognition from much of the critical community who heralded its arrival as a "signal moment" in the history of design.
"The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao stands as an enduring testament to creativity, innovation, and collaboration between three entities — architect Frank O. Gehry; client Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation; and host city Bilbao — who all worked together to create something extraordinary out of necessity and opportunity," the AIA’s citation reads. "The result is a timeless architectural masterpiece that continues to inspire people around the world today, almost 25 years after its completion."
As a new global landmark that’s spurred the economic development of the Basque region, the museum will also stand for generations of planners as the cultural driving force behind successful economic turnarounds. Its influence can today be seen in the delivery of several similar projects in the UAE, eastern France, China, and other regions in Spain.
Its existence will soon yield a new $129 million expansion that's been floated on and off since 2008 and help permanently enshrine the 94-year-old deconstructivist pioneer's legacy as one of the most important architects of his generation.
With this latest honor, which adds to his 2012 win for the self-constructed Gehry Residence in Santa Monica, Gehry joins I.M. Pei as one of six other individuals to have won the Twent-five Year Award multiple times.
Steven Holl’s Chapel of St. Ignatius was last year’s winner.
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