THe American Institute of Architects (AIA)* has granted its renowned Twenty-Five Year Award to the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao by Frank O. Gehry.  This award is granted to buildings that have withstood the test of time, between 25 and 35 years, and which continue to set standards of excellence for their architectural design and significance.

As we’ve said, this award is well deserved, as it honors a building that marked a turning point in the world of architecture.  We’ve talked a lot about it, as is logical, and we as Basques feel especially proud of the fact that not only is it in our country, but it was also born of the drive and vision of Basque institutions.

The museum was built by Basque drive and with Basque taxpayer money, and is owned by three Basque institutions: the Basque Government, the Biscay Government, and the City of Bilbao.

These were the Basque institutions that got in touch with the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and, after signing the agreement that set everything in motion, the choice of Frank O. Gehry as lead architect was a decision agreed upon by both parties.  Were this not true, the statements Gehry himself made in this interview would not be true.

All of this is widely known and has been even been stated by the architect himself.  That’s why we’re surprised to see that in the prize’s data sheet, they state that the museum is owned by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation.

We are also quite surprised that in the explanatory text, no mention is made of the fundamental role played by the three Basque institutions involved in the project; the same three Basque institutions which are the sole owners of the building.

There can be no doubt that the museum is the consequence of the agreement of two parties: the Basque institutions and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation.  Nor can there be any doubt that Gehry, and his extraordinary design, are key parts of its success.  That’s why we’re so surprised the AIA has omitted these key elements.

Another article about this prize caught our eye, this time in Architect Magazine and penned by Edward Keegan, who is a member of the AIA.  He states that the Guggenheim Bilbao should not be seen as an isolated architectural element, but rather as “just one piece of citywide urban renewal that took place over these decades.”  And is still ongoing, we’d like to add.

*The AIA is a professional architects’ association in the United States, with headquarters in Washington, DC.  The AIA offers educational , government defense, community redevelopment, and public education programs to support the profession of architect and to improve its public perception.

AIA – 6/2023 – USA

2023 Twenty-five Year Award Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

Upending preconceived notions of what art museums can be, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao’s revolutionary form was the iconic catalist to redefine and revitalize Spain’s Basque region while supporting a wide range of cultural initiatives. Conceived at the pivotal moment between analog and digital practice, the museum has been an integral part of urban life in Bilbao since opening in 1997, persisting as a symbol of the power of good, human-centered design’s ability to embolden creativity and fundamentally reshape communities.

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Architect Magazine – 10/6/2023 – USA

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao Receives AIA’s 2023 Twenty-Five Year Award

The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao by Gehry Partners has received the 2023 AIA Twenty-five Year Award. The Institute announced the honor in a ceremony at its A’23 conference in San Francisco, noting that the award recognizes “a building that has set a precedent for the last 25–35 years and continues to set standards of excellence for its architectural design and significance,” according to an AIA press release.

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Last Updated on Dec 3, 2023 by About Basque Country

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