Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (1956), New York, New York

Guggenheim MuseumIn 1943, Wright accepted a commission to design a museum to house the Solomon R. Guggenhiem Collection of Non-Objective Painting. Construction of the building began in 1956 and was incomplete at the time of Wright’s death in 1959. Delays in implementing the plan included the building moratorium imposed by World War II and the difficulty of finding a suitable site in Manhattan. Moreover, problems arose in obtaining construction permits from New York City officials. The spiral form that characterized the structure from its earliest stage underwent several versions.
Guggenheim Museum, interiorThe choice of the expanding spiral made the best use of the available site. Further, it combined structural and spatial principles toward which Wright had worked throughout his career. Concrete is the primary construction material, both sprayed and poured into forms. Inside the building, a shallow spiraling ramp follows the curvilinear form of the exterior and provides display space for the artworks. Wright said, the Guggenheim Museum is “one great space on a single continuous floor. The eye encounters no abrupt change, but is gently led and treated as if at the edge of a shore watching an unbreaking wave … one floor flowing into another instead of the usual superimposition of stratified layers. The whole is cast in concrete, more an eggshell in form than a crisscross brick structure.”
Guggenheim Museum, plan

Plan of Ground Level

Guggenheim Museum, drawing

Drawing copyright © The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation.

For more information about the Guggenheim Museum, see

References: Frank Lloyd Wright by Robert McCarter, ©1997 Phaidon Press Limited; Frank Lloyd Wright: A Gatefold Portfolio by Robin Langley Sommer, ©1997 Barnes & Noble Books Inc.

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