- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 13 Jul 2017
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is an art museum located on Fifth Avenue in the Upper East Side neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. Designed as a distinctive cylindrical form by the architect Frank Lloyd Wright, it is widely acknowledged to be a landmark example of the International Style.
Originally known as the Museum of Non-Objective Painting, the museum was first established by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in 1939, but in a different location. In the late-1940s, plans were made to move, and Frank Lloyd Wright was commissioned to design a new ‘temple of the spirit’.
It was the only museum Wright designed and would prove to be his final project, as he died six months before its official opening in October 1959. It provoked a mixed response, with some critics calling it ‘the most beautiful building in America’, while others believed the architecture detracted from the art itself, calling it ‘less a museum than a monument to Wright’.
It is now a popular tourist attraction, with around 1.3 million visitors a year.
Wright was not particularly keen on the idea of designing a building for the ‘overbuilt and overpopulated’ Manhattan. However, after considering several locations he chose the Fifth Avenue site because of its close proximity to Central Park. The urban location meant Wright had to design the building vertically rather than horizontally, in a form that was a departure from the rural works with which he was associated.
He settled on a cylindrical form, with a wider top than base, and the appearance of a white ribbon curled into a stack, in stark contrast to the typically-rectangular buildings that characterised Manhattan.
Wright’s design dispensed with the conventional approach to museum layout. He conceived a continuous helical ramp on a gentle slope that spirals around the outer edges of the building. This allows visitors to view the 92 m-high atrium that rises to an expansive glass dome, while passing several bays of artwork on different levels, creating ‘one great space on a continuous floor’.
In terms of function, a number of artists raised doubts about his design. The shape of the interior walls meant paintings had to be tilted backward, and there were difficulties hanging linear artworks on concave surfaces.
 Subsequent construction
The museum has been changed a number of times since its completion. There was a major expansion and renovation in 1990-92, when Wright’s original plan for an adjoining sandstone tower was realised. In addition, the atrium skylight, which had been covered, was restored to its original design.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
Featured articles and news
Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) can go some way to show the impact of new buildings on their surroundings.
The shortlist for the 2018 prize for the UK's best new building is revealed.
Amendment to Bill aims to provide councils with greater powers to increase tax premiums on empty homes.
As the latest summer blockbuster 'Skyscraper' is released, we look at some of the best uses of buildings in film.
Read our introductory article on how to layout a building.
New cross-party report calls for combustible cladding ban to be extended to all high-rise residential buildings.
Dr Nicholas Falk, director of the URBED Trust, explains why metro cities are the future of urbanisation.
From next week, UK firms can bid for a share of a £12.5m fund to boost productivity, performance and quality.
A right to light generally refers to the right to receive sufficient light through an opening.
Interference and compatibility - the effects of electromagnetic fields in the workplace.