NYC Landmark Buildings: The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

The Guggenheim Museum: Historical NYC Landmark Buildings

The Guggenheim Museum is a world-renowned museum in New York City that features a wide variety of art, from ancient to contemporary. The museum was founded in 1937 by philanthropist Solomon R. Guggenheim and his wife, Peggy Guggenheim. Today, the Guggenheim is one of the most visited museums in the world, with more than two million visitors each year.

The Guggenheim's collection spans a wide range of art media, from ancient Egyptian antiques to contemporary paintings and sculptures. Highlights of the museum's collection include the Mona Lisa, which is the most-visited painting in the world.

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The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, Photo by Sophie Louisnard from Pexels

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is an art museum located on the most expensive New Yorkian street, 1070 Fifth Avenue, in the Manhattan District (See situation below). It is today considered one of the NYC landmark buildings, and worthily. It is the continual home of an increasing collection of Impressionists, Post-Impressionists, early Moderns, and contemporary arts in general, and also features special exhibitions throughout the year.


The Guggenheim Museum in brief History

The museum often referred to as The Guggenheim museum NYC was established and founded by Solomon R. Guggenheim in 1939 as the "Museum of Non-Objective Painting", with direct influence and under the guidance of its first manager, Hilla von Rebay. It was firstly inaugurated on a rented lot and adopted its current name in 1952 after three years of its founder's death.

Back in June 1943, Frank Lloyd Wright, the very famous American Architect of all time, received a letter from Rebay, mentioned above, asking him to design a new building to house The Guggenheim's celebrating its four-year-old-so-far Museum.

The project turned into a complicated struggle between the architect and his clients, on the one hand, city officials, the art world, and public opinion on the other hand. Unfortunately, in 1959 both Guggenheim and Wright died before the completion of the building; The brilliant result, i.e. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, witnessed both Wright's architectural professionalism and the courageous attitude that was characterized by its founders towards the opposition of their project.


The Museum site-location Selection: The first Challenge

Meanwhile, Wright didn’t hide his disagreement with Guggenheim's choice of New York City for his future museum to be: "I can think of several more desirable places in the world to build his great museum," Wright wrote in 1949 to Arthur Holden, a Canadian writer, "but we will have to try New York." he added.

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For Wright, the city was already overbuilt, overpopulated, and in need of architectural identity.

Despite his preference for another site, he proceeded with his client's wish, and consider locations on 36th Street, 54th Street, and Park Avenue (all in "Manhattan"), as well as in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, before settling down on the actual lot on the Fifth Avenue, between 88th and 89th Streets, as shown above. (See directions map above)

Its closeness to Central Park makes it the only way to be near nature; Once we get to New York, the park ensures lesser noise from the crowded city.



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The Architect picked a site next to Central Park, connecting the museum with Nature, Photo: www.architecturaldigest.com

The park's greenery and fresh environment with the existence of water inside, assure freedom to the museum from New York's distraction and pollution.

 

Facts behind The Guggenheim Museum Architectural Concept

Anyway, we can say that The Guggenheim Museum conception is primarily Wright’s attempt to introduce organic forms in architecture; He was the father of Parametric Architecture and the first to deal with this still-new philosophy concerning architecture in general.

Later came the Iraqi Architect, Zaha Hadid (1950 – 2016) who was surnamed by the “Queen of Curves” after her triumphal experiences caught along with her various projects using curves — or better to say organics — as being the essential architectural elements in her concepts.

His inverted ziggurat, which is a twisting pyramidal temple of Babylonian origin, dispensed the traditional approach to museums’ design. Despite its faults, the Guggenheim Museum is nonetheless a magnificent building, a little crazy, which pushes the limits of concrete technology.

Speaking of structural construction, it is a circular ramp that winds around a concrete pit, topped with a glass dome with flat ribs. (See figure below)


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Inside view of the rotunda, topped with a glass dome, Photo: www.architecturaldigest.com

Wright, who worked on his plans for 16 years, imagined that visitors would take the elevator to the top and descend the ramp. However, the museum exhibit begins on the ground floor and visitors should use the ramp on their way up. The galleries were divided the same as the membranes in citrus fruit, with self-contained yet dependent sections. (See the Tweet below)



The unique open rotunda allows viewers the exclusive possibility of catching several inlets of work on different levels at once. The spiral design reminds us of a snail conch shell, with continuous spaces curving freely.

Even though it involved nature, also contrary to the rigid geometry of modern architectural styles, the building was a composition of circles, triangles, ovals, arcs, and squares based on proportional design. (See plans layout below)


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The geometric forms came into action within the different floor levels of the museum, Photo:www.semanticscholar.org

The particular conception took decades to be entirely assimilated. Originally, the large rotunda was to be accompanied by a small rotunda and a tower. The small rotunda (or monitor building, as Wright calls it) was intended to house apartments for Rebay and Guggenheim himself, but instead became offices and miscellaneous storage space.

However, Wright's original plan for the tower—artists' studios and apartments—went unrealized and uncompleted, mainly for financial restrictions reasons. In 1992, as part of the restoration and enlargement of the museum, a tower of 10 stories was added to the original construction and designed by Gwathmey Siegel and Associates Architects, LLC.


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The new extension provides four additional exhibition galleries and after thirty-five years, finally completed Wright's concept for the museum.

In 2001, the "Sackler Center for Arts Education" opened to the public. Located just below the circular void space, this 8,200 sqft education facility includes the Peter B. Lewis Theater, part of Frank Lloyd Wright's original architectural design for the building.


In the end, the Solomon r. Guggenheim museum is possibly Wright's most expressive presentation, but it is undoubtedly the most important building of his late career. Over time, it is one of the best NYC landmark buildings that rank and stick to their position, ... of course worthily.


References in this post:

- www.eng.wikipedia.org, The online encyclopedia.
- https://www.admiddleeast.com, Architectural Digest | News & Ideas for Architectural Designs, Interior & Home Décor.
Nadim Maani

Blogging about Architecture and Designs AutoCAD, Photoshop, 3DS Max, and other software Tips and Tutorials, Lebanese Traditional Style, Real Estate, Home Improvement, Travel, and Places to Visit.

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