This article was translated by John R. Bopp

Quarterly magazine MAS Context is a non-profit organization founded in Illinois in 2009 to look into the debate about the urban context via the active participation of people of different conditions and different points of view.

Special issue on Bilbao in MAS Context.  View of Abandoibarra
Special issue on Bilbao in MAS Context.  View of Abandoibarra

This magazine just published a double issue (#30-31) dedicated to Bilbao.  It’s an issue that, as the publication explains on its website, explores the notable transformation of the city and the objectives and needs that have guided them.  It does so through interesting proposals, personal photographic essays, failed projects, exceptional successes, and open interviews.  The goal of this issue of MAS Context is to offer a complete overview of a metamorphosis whose reach and complexity go beyond the construction of a renown building.

A special issue of ‘MAS Context’ on Bilbao.  They look back all the way to 1900.
A special issue of ‘MAS Context’ on Bilbao.  They look back all the way to 1900.

They do so also with a look that goes much further back in time than most others do.  They analyze the evolution of this city since 1900.  We think that’s an extraordinary idea, because it’s hard to understand what Bilbao is, and its evolution, problems and solutions, without going back to the years of the industrial and commercial explosion that began at the end of the 1800s.

It’s 230 pages full of reflections, diagrams, photographs, and explanations that help understand the how and why of this city, including the extraordinary and unique transformation this city underwent between 1900 and 1970 when its population increased fivefold: from merely 82,000 to 405,000.  It was a process that affected the metro area in a similar way.

Special issue of ‘MAS Context’ on Bibao.  The city’s transformation can only be understood at a metropolitan level.
Special issue of ‘MAS Context’ on Bibao.  The city’s transformation can only be understood at a metropolitan level.

This monographic issue on Bilbao was presented at the event Bilbao’s Strategic Evolution Book Launch and Panel Discussion, which also included a debate about Bilbao and Chicago.  It was led by the magazine’s chief editor, Iker Gil, from Bilbao, and participants included Mary Sue Barret, president of the Metropolitan Planning Council, and Philip Enquist, FAIA, partner in charge of Urban Design and Planning at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM).

It’s interesting that this publication coincides with the inauguration 17 years ago (April 2000) of the exhibition “Bilbao: the Transformation of a City” at the Art Institute of Chicago, when twelve key projects were presented to help all understand the rebirth and modernization of this city, from the invisible but crucial plan to clean up the river, to the brillian Guggenheim Museum, without forgetting key projects like the Outer Port, which freed up the riverbanks in the urban core, or the subway, the Bilbao Metro, which has made traveling throughout the metro area much easier.  It was an exhibition curated by Marta Thorne and which was designed by architect Xabier Vendrell.

An image of the exhibition on the Transformation of Bilbao held in 2000.  (photo by Xavier Vendrell) at the Art Institute of Chicago.
An image of the exhibition on the Transformation of Bilbao held in 2000.  (photo by Xavier Vendrell) at the Art Institute of Chicago.

The success of the Chicago show, along with the interest created by learning about Bilbao’s transformation process, managed to get that exhibition, with ever greater numbers of people visiting, to travel round the world, answering calls from different institutions to show it.

We’ll leave you with the information about the issue of MAS Context, its presentation, and its PDF version.  We’ll also leave you with some references about the exhibition Bibao: The Transformation of a City that was held in 2000.

Mas Context – 3/2017- USA

30-31 / Bilbao

Cover of the issue about Bilbao in ‘MAS Context’ magazine, from Chicago.
Cover of the issue about Bilbao in ‘MAS Context’ magazine, from Chicago.

Welcome to our Bilbao issue. This issue explores the remarkable transformation of the city and the goals and needs driving it. Through insightful essays, personal photo essays, failed projects, exceptional successes, and open interviews, this issue provides a comprehensive look at a metamorphosis whose scope and complexity goes far beyond the construction of a single renowned building.

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Download PDF version.

Mas Context – 3/2017- USA

Bilbao issue launch in Chicago April 19, 2017

Bilbao from Meneo on Vimeo.

MAS Context editor in chief Iker Gil will present the most recent issue of the journal dedicated to the city of Bilbao on Wednesday, April 19, at 6 pm. After the presentation, Iker Gil will moderate a conversation about Bilbao and Chicago with MarySue Barrett, president of the Metropolitan Planning Council, and Philip Enquist, FAIA, partner in charge of Urban Design and Planning at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM).

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Rebirth of Bilbao — Guggenheim Museum and Beyond — Explored In New Art Institute Architecture Exhibition (2000)

An image of the exhibition about the Transformation of Bilbao held in 2000 (photo by Xavier Vendrell) at the Art Institute of Chicago.
An image of the exhibition about the Transformation of Bilbao held in 2000 (photo by Xavier Vendrell) at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Bilbao, the capital of Bizkaia (Biscay), which is located in the Basque region of northern Spain, is currently undergoing a remarkable cultural and economic renewal, tied in large part to a major government-sponsored building and infrastructure improvement thrust. A
substantial decline in the ancient city’s industrial and economic base in the 1970s and 80s forced the city to essentially reinvent itself-with the most famous result thus far being architect Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, which opened in 1997. The fascinating story of Bilbao’s rebirth is told in a visually stunning and thought-provoking architecture and design exhibition on view in the Art Institute of Chicago’s Kisho Kurokawa Gallery April 7-July 16, 2000, Bilbao: The Transformation of a City.

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