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
Polyisocyanurate (PIR) insulation and how it was tested.
"We can’t sustain low density suburbs, density isn't a choice, it's a necessity." - Read our interview with the award-winning social housing architect Peter Barber.
Conservation area designation can be crucial, but treatment of individual parks varies considerably.
ICE publish new NEC4 Design, Build and Operate contract.
Report states $2 trillion is needed over the next 10 years to fix American roads.
What is the client's strategic brief for construction projects?
Read the story behind the world's most iconic festival stage, Glastonbury's Pyramid Stage.
First ever BREEAM Communities innovation credit is claimed by Temple Farm Development.
Read the story of Ronan Point, another disastrous event which had profound consequences for the construction industry.
CIOB to help conservation specialists gain recognition for their expertise with launch of new Certification Scheme.
A brief introduction to Building Information Modelling - is it the future of construction?
Have a look at Francis Kéré's 2017 pavilion, based on the concept of the tree as a place of shelter.
CIOB announce new commission to assess what more it and the industry can do to tackle build quality issues.
What is ACM cladding, what is it used for, and is it banned?