The building of the Guggenheim Museum in New York demonstrates the originality of the architectural talent of Frank Lloyd Wright who created the project of this unique construction which decorates the cityscape of present-day New York. Contrasting with the surrounding objects, the building of the Guggenheim Museum is interesting as a building and institution.
The historical background
The project of the Guggenheim Museum which was presented to the commission by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1946 had no precedent as a building and as an institution.
As opposed to researchers who discuss the controversy between the design of the building and its functions, Wright stressed the suitability of the novelty of its design to the functions of the museum as an institution. Though the building has been frequently criticized because of the lack of its functionality, describing his project, the architect took into consideration the formal, structural, and functional aspects of its infrastructure. Wright associated the use of advanced technologies and the original architectural design with the institutional functions of the museum. The architect emphasized the unity of the form and functions of the building, treating it as an organic whole. Unfortunately, the architect had died before the project was completed. The debates concerning the principles for the restoration of the building have been held in the 1980s. Pamela Jerome is a preservation architect who has been working on a restoration project was aimed at minimizing the modification of the initial design of the building. “The aspiration of a preservationist is to ensure that the ability of future generations to re-treat the building are not compromised” (Hart 97). The developers of the latest restoration project took into consideration the necessity of future restorations and tried to preserve the peculiarities of Wright’s project as a part of cultural heritage.
The impact of the location on the perception
Taking into account the original design of the building under analysis, it cannot blend with the cityscape and would contrast the surrounding city infrastructure disregarding its location. Facing Central Park, the Guggenheim museum is surrounded by modern standard buildings which intensify the effect produced by the unique design of the building, emphasizing the originality of its forms and materials. It seems that not only the present and the past met at this site of modern New York, but also a true work of art met with the trivial designs of the urban architecture. Disregarding the fact that the building of the Guggenheim Museum cannot fit with the surrounding cityscape, the contrast between the styles intensifies the impression produced by the magnificent Wright’s building.
The modern view of the building
The novelty of the spiral structure of the building amazes the contemporary visitors notwithstanding the decades which have passed since the year of its construction.
Because of the spiral construction, there is no strict division into the floors. The facades of the building are plain without ornamentation which can be explained by the peculiarities of the architectural style of the building. The fenestration of the building is partially hedged with the fragments of walls on one side of the building and widely opened on the other side. The hidden windows on one side of the construction surround the museum with mystery by generating public interest in the interior of this hidden part of the museum.
“A most common work of architecture with which the Wright building was compared is the Pantheon in Rome” (Chanchani 176). The original construction, the original design, and the use of the advanced technologies and materials in the building of the Guggenheim Museum make it one of the cultural hubs of New York and a significant part of its architectural heritage attracting not only tourists but also the architecture historians.
Response to the design of the construction
The building of the Guggenheim Museum is open for a wide range of the observers’ interpretations and cannot be regarded as a passive experience. Observing the peculiar forms and lines used by the architect, a visitor can get some personal associations that would have an impact on the perception of the construction.
The prolonged debates concerning the controversy between the form and the functionality of the building prove that the interpretation of the design of the building can vary significantly. “As an incunabulum of the belief that architecture does not have to serve art but instead to challenge it…Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York found its established place in the history of architecture” (Naredi-Rainer and Hilger 28). At the same time, Wright as the author of the project emphasized the integrity of all the components of the construction with the functional aspects of the museum as an institution.
Several decades which have passed since the year of construction of the building of the Guggenheim Museum did not reduce the researchers’ interest in the original design, materials, and the advanced technologies used in the construction and the correlation between the aesthetic qualities of the construction and its functionality.
Chanchani, Samiran. “Between Icon and Institution: The Vacillating Significance of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim Museum”. The Journal of Architecture 2000. Print.
Hart, Sara. “Guggenheim Face-Lift Retains Its Original Wrinkles”. 2008. Print.
Naredi-Rainer, Paul and Oliver Hilger. Museum Buildings: A Design Manual. Basel: Publishers for Architecture. 2004. Print.