June 2, 2010

Idea: The Inverse of the Guggenheim

The Guggenheim Museum has locations in New York, Venice, Bilbao, Berlin, and soon Abu Dhabi. The New York location was famously designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, and resembles an upside down wedding cake attached to a more conventional structure:

Looking at the spiral, I realized that the inverse of the building might also be an interesting structure. That is to say, if you put a large box around the Guggenheim, and then you remove the space taken up by Wright’s design, you’re left with another design for a building.

This view is from the opposite corner as the first image above. The cutout area facing us is where the tower was attached in the original design. I’ve made this building’s footprint a little larger than the original museum’s footprint to allow for more art gallery space, since otherwise the bowl (left by the cake’s absence) is so large that there’s not much building left.

While this design loses Wright’s skylight, it gains a colosseum-like courtyard that could be used as a sculpture garden, with windows that look down onto it from every floor. Here’s what it might look like if you’re standing in the garden:

Unfortunately, I have no idea what the interior of this building would be like, and I love the interior of Wright’s Guggenheim. I’ve often thought my ideal layout for a museum would just be one long hallway: you start at one end, finish at the other, and you know you’ve seen everything in between. Wright’s spiral gallery accomplishes that, being basically a hallway that follows a ramp. Visiting the inverted building would probably be a more conventional experience of moving from room to room.

Interestingly, the Guggenheim museum recently ran a competition called Contemplating the Void which invited people to re-imagine the museum’s rotunda. Perhaps I was thinking about it subconsciously when this idea came to me today. You can see the contest entries on Flickr and see the winners here.


Somewhat similar, in fact, to the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC. Although its interior space is rather brutalist, save for the fountain in the middle. The surrounding grounds instead host many of the museum’s sculptures.



Also reminds me of BBC Television Center in London.

That’s a brilliant idea. I do enjoy your blog! (Especially the name, which always makes me smile.)
I have a related question. How did you render your drawing? Did you do that on the computer or by hand and scan it? How did you do the colouring - I assume Illustrator or something?

The gugenheim looks like a parking garage.

It looks like some kind of space age toilet.

If you used come clear skylight walkways in the otherwise open part of the courtyard you could replicate the spiral walkway of Wright’s.