Guggenheim Bilbao, Spain

The Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Bilbao is often regarded as one of the most important structures of the last 50 years.  Opened in 1997, it helped transform the declining port town of Bilbao into a prosperous cultural hub – creating the “Bilbao effect.”  While some have identified it as a key part of the city’s “gentrification,” critics have otherwise lauded it for its respectful placement in the city, positive relationship with the community, and geopolitical impact on Spanish unity.  Given the almost unmitigated success that has made this project a perennial award winner, one wonders if this is actually the Bilbao anomaly?

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