Guggenheim Alliance with Gehry and Koolhaas

Guggenheim Alliance with Gehry and Koolhaas


Group Will Undertake Feasibility Studies for Possible Cultural Projects in United States, Europe, and South America

Thomas Krens, Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, today announced that the Guggenheim Museum is entering into an alliance with Frank O. Gehry & Associates, the Santa Monica, CA-based architectural firm, and the Rem Koolhaas-led AMO group, a research entity, to undertake feasibility studies for possible cultural interventions and projects at strategic locations around the world.

Mr. Krens and the Guggenheim worked with Frank O. Gehry & Associates on the design for the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao; the proposal for the new Guggenheim Museum New York; and installations for several Guggenheim exhibitions, including The Art of the Motorcycle. Mr. Koolhaas is currently working on an exhibition for the Guggenheim Museum in New York. Mr. Gehry and Mr. Koolhaas, both winners of the Pritzker Prize for architecture, have each been interested in working with the Guggenheim on ways to position the museum internationally, and to emphasize the importance of architecture in the largest possible contemporary cultural context.

The development strategy of the Guggenheim Foundation has long had an international focus. The Guggenheim Foundation was the principal force in producing feasibility studies for museum projects in Salzburg, Vienna, Osaka, and Tokyo in the late 1980s and early 1990s. "Since the opening of the Guggenheim in Bilbao in late 1997," said Mr. Krens, "the interest in what has come to be known as 'the Bilbao effect' has grown exponentially. Between Frank's office and mine, we have received more than 60 requests to participate in urban development and cultural infrastructure projects from institutions, cities, and regional governments all over the world. Rather than react to this interest in a haphazard fashion, we felt that the best approach would be to pool our resources and expertise with Rem, establish rigorous and challenging criteria, and work on those few situations that promise an unusual or extraordinary outcome, one that advances our collective vision of artistic responsibility."

"Our work will not necessarily result in a museum building, or a building designed by either architect, or a Guggenheim Museum per se," said Messrs. Koolhaas, Gehry and Krens in a joint statement. "Rather, we are interested in developing aesthetic concepts in an intensely practical context. Architecture and culture are a matter of use and engagement, not of aesthetic notions disconnected from a practical contemporary reality. We are interested in considering all of these factors concurrently, and working with local institutions in local situations to create something unique and special. We will want to simultaneously consider all of the potential components of a given project: its cultural, commercial, and economic impacts; its capacity to influence patterns of behavior; its relationship to local traditions and existing cultural and political institutions; its resources and sources of support; its profitability and scale; its capacity to influence cultural history; and its long-term use and programming capability."

"Collectively, we see this as a learning opportunity, and not just an opportunity to design buildings or create cultural programming. Clearly the world is full of extraordinarily rich situations, which exist beyond the realm of our immediate and localized experience. These situations will suggest solutions that we can scarcely imagine. But we look forward to bringing our collective experience and practical and aesthetic expertise to bear, to see if we can identify interesting problems and suggest interesting solutions." The Guggenheim/Gehry/Koolhaas alliance would have considerable technical, analytical, and cultural expertise at its disposal. The Guggenheim operates five museums in New York, Bilbao, Venice, and Berlin, and has operational alliances with the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg and the Zentrum für Kunst und Mediatechnologie (ZKM) in Karlsruhe, Germany. The Guggenheim has pioneered the development of museum expansion on an international scale, and has used economic and demographic research tools to establish the rationale and foundation for its international projects.

Mr. Koolhaas founded the Office of Metropolitan Architecture in 1975. Among his numerous highly acclaimed completed projects are the Kunsthal in Rotterdam (1992) and the Eura-Lille Masterplan and Grand Palais (1994). Currently in progress are a series of major commissions including the Netherlands Embassy in Berlin, the Universal Studios headquarters in Los Angeles, and the new Public Library in Seattle. Besides his buildings, Mr. Koolhaas is equally well known for his theoretical and academic work which influenced a whole generation of young architects. His books Delirious New York (1978) and S, M, L, XL (1995) established Koolhaas as a leading thinker in contemporary architecture. He has held teaching positions at various institutions worldwide since 1975 and is currently a professor at Harvard University.

In addition to the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and the proposal for the new Guggenheim Museum in New York, Frank O. Gehry & Associates have designed and built the recently opened Experience Music Project in Seattle, the Frederick R. Weisman Museum in Minneapolis, the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany, and the California Aerospace Museum in Los Angeles. The firm's current work includes the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, Bard College Performing Arts Center in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, the State Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem, the Corcoran Gallery & School of Art expansion in Washington, D.C., and the Arena Center in Prague, a mixed-use neighborhood re-development project being designed in collaboration with the architect Jean Nouvel. For many years, Frank O. Gehry & Associates has had a deep interest in exploring collaborative design efforts with artists and with other architects.

Projects for the new alliance will be undertaken with clients initially on a consulting basis through the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. Regional or metropolitan government entities will contract with the Guggenheim for a specified scope of services related to cultural interventions or cultural infrastructure projects. Messrs. Koolhaas, Gehry, and Krens will screen projects and establish the structure of the study based on a preliminary assessment of the project requirements. The special project staff of the Guggenheim, the Frank O. Gehry & Associates team, and the Koolhaas/AMO team will jointly work on various aspects of the study.

"The activities of this alliance advance the primary mission of the Guggenheim Foundation," said Mr. Krens, "which is to enrich the cultural life of the communities in which we live, and to expand our audience through the Guggenheim collections, buildings, and educational programs. The breadth and multi-faceted depth of this process of cultural engagement and education is central to the objectives of our alliance with Frank and Rem. Cultural impact is not one-dimensional. To under-emphasize the communicative potential of architecture, or to ignore specific interactions with cultures and geographies that are not our own, is to make a huge mistake. I think our collective effort can produce collaborations that will be truly revolutionary, and that interests us all."

The first project undertaken by the alliance will be the expansion of the State Hermitage Museum into the 450,000-square-foot General Staff Building on Palace Square in St. Petersburg. The building was designed and built in the early nineteenth century according to plans developed by the Italian architect Carlo Rossi. It will be the home for a major new initiative in twentieth-century art that is a centerpiece of the Hermitage-Guggenheim collaboration, which was announced on June 20, 2000, in St. Petersburg. Installations of post-war modern and contemporary art, multi-media installations, and contemporary art and photography from the Guggenheim collections will be installed in many of the more than 600 rooms of the General Staff Building.

The Guggenheim/Gehry/Koolhaas alliance will develop the new master plan for The Greater Hermitage Project in close association with Mikhail Piotrovski, Director of the State Hermitage Museum, and his staff. The preliminary program calls for two-thirds of the space in the General Staff Building to be used for cultural purposes, with one-third for commercial development. In this new exhibition space, the Hermitage will display its nineteenth-century Empire decorative arts collection, its extensive porcelain collections, and the Shchukin-Morosov collection of French Impressionist paintings. These will be complemented by installations of Modern and contemporary art provided by the Guggenheim. The Guggenheim/Gehry/Koolhaas alliance anticipates announcing additional feasibility study projects for possible sites in South America and the United States within the next few months.

September 27, 2000

For Press Information: Betsy Ennis, Director of Public Affairs
Telephone: (212) 423-3840
Telefax: (212) 423-3787

Press images

Press Images

Download high resolution, press-approved images.

contact us

Have a media inquiry? Contact us for more information.