Architecture Art Museums and Urban Developments. Analysis

Essay, 2001

15 Pages, Grade: A+



H a n n a h S c h w a n z e r , M a g . A r t , M B A

“It is an open secret that the presentation of art is not the only function of the contemporary museum. The very success of the institution has accrued additional interests and powers that require their own infrastructure. In addition, the way visual culture is now infinitely disseminated increases the value of access to real things. This allure makes it crucial for institutions to guard, exploit and wherever possible, enhance their aura. Paradoxically it raises the stakes for those who own real things to play a role in their dissemination, if not to control it.

This requires a place where all complementary campaigns and ventures are masterminded; a MOMA Inc. This Headquarters can plot the dissemination of MoMA`s assets and use them for a campaign of continuing relevance, artistic growth, and fiscal well being”.1

The situation of many European museums (by the ending of the twentieth century) is traceable to a prevailing public and social perception about them and can be portrayed as:

“The public art museum is an [18]th century idea (the concept of the encyclopedia) in a [19]th century box (the recycled and extended palace), that more or less fulfills its structural destiny sometime toward the end of the [20]th century”.2

The change of the perception of the museum´s task and its exterior appearance started in the [1940]s and [1950]s in the United States. A model for that change is the Guggenheim Collection with its stirring spiral architecture built by Frank Lloyd Wright in [1959]. “He conceived of its curving, continuous space as a “temple of spirit”, where viewers could foster a new way of looking”.3 “For America today organic architecture interprets (will eventually build) this local embodiment of human freedom. This natural architecture seeks spaciousness, grace and openness; lightness and strength so completely balanced and logical that it is a new integrity...”4

Architecture as an expression for a new viability, taste, spirit, and zest for the arts and life had become a crucial part of an art museum at the ending twentieth century. In my interviews with Karen Davidson, Deputy Director for Policy, Planning, and Administration MOMA,5 and Julian Zugazagoitia,6 Executive Assistant to the Director, Guggenheim Museum, New York, it became manifest that the prominent architecture of the museum was important not only for raising the image of the museum but also for the whole philosophy of a museum’s vision. It adds intellectual value and demonstrates this towards the outside world. Architecture had become part of the corporate image of the art museum. Therefore, the architect’s ideas and his philosophy play an important role for the museum´s vision and image.

Such architecture and construction cannot be financed by the museum alone so partnerships and the symbiosis with businesses, local governments, and professional developers has achieved major importance since the early 1990 s, and culminated in the last five years.

By “building landmark new structures and satellite venues”, museums became “cultural cornerstones of urban revitalization and tourism efforts”, and catalysts for increased business and development endeavors.7

One of the first spectacular projects was the Guggenheim Museum-Bilbao, realized by strong financial supports, as well as the political and cultural backing of the Basque Government, the Diputación Foral de Bizkaia, to develop and revitalize the city of Bilbao. The project was initiated in [1991] and completed in [1997]. To enhance the authorities´ efforts, Santiago Calatrava remodeled the city’s airport and designed a new footbridge crossing, Federico Soriano planned the new conference center, and Sir Norman Foster designed the new railway.8

With projects, like this, the conception of art museums and urban development reversed. Museums by its spectacular architecture that provided positive corporate image, combined with savvy marketing are increasingly the target of urban planning processes.

The success of Bilbao´s symbiosis lead to the project of the new Guggenheim on the East River in lower Manhattan: The titanium-clad construction, which resembles Guggenheim Bilbao, is estimated to cost $[900] million (Guggenheim estimates were for $[678]million(?)). The [45] story project, designed by Frank O. Gehry will occupy [570],[000] square feet of waterfront property, provide [200],[000] square feet for exhibitions, [75],[000] square feet for Guggenheim’s postwar permanent collection, and [60],[000] square feet for architecture, design and multimedia art.9 A center for Art Education, [23],[000] square feet, will be in size and have two theaters ([1200] seats and [400] seats) completes the concept. The project is expected to create [2],[550] jobs, attract 2-3 million visitors per year, generate $280 million in annual economic activity, and add $14 million annually to city tax revenues. The City of New York (Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani) will make a capital contribution of $67.8 million toward the project and the capital campaign will be formally launched by spring 2001.10

“The ICA-Institute For Contemporary Art, New England’s top contemporary Art Museum, will be the anchor of a $[1].[2] billion waterfront redevelopment project at Fan Pier (Boston). The three million square foot Fan Pier project is planned for a nine block, mostly vacant industrial area and is slated to include [800] residential units, [1],[000] hotel rooms, parks, a public marina and [150],[000] square foot of civic and cultural space.”11 The ICA museum building, the Hyatt Development Corporation and the Pritzker Family, the company’s owners are developing a $[50] million, [60],[000] square foot project.12 The ICA new museum is supposed to be a “real catalyst for tourism and economic development as well as a boost for the local arts” scene.13

The Austin Museum of Art (Texas), a projected [141],[000] square foot building with ten galleries, designed by Gluckman Meyers Architects, will serve as an anchor for revitalizing an empty sector of downtown Austin. A tax incentive plan was developed to motivate companies to expand into this sector.14

The number of such projects and enterprises has increased recently, with many of them either in the planning stages, or under construction.

Eleventh Mayor’s Forum of ULI-The Urban Land Institute

The eleventh ULI-Mayors Forum concluded the following on the importance of the arts for urban planning processes: “Artists contribute directly or indirectly to a city by adding to its ambience and vitality and helping to restore buildings; lease low- rent space; establish studios, galleries, and museums; attract tourists; educate children; start businesses; and expand the tax, job and cultural base”.15

Stanton Eckstut, principal of New York City based Ehrenkrantz, Eckstut&Kuhn Architects stated at the eleventh ULI Mayors Forum that: “At the turn of this century, the arts are becoming an integral part of urban districts, mixed in with more familiar, routine functions of a city. We have gone from an old European tradition in which art institutions were set apart, to a more American view of art institutions in which they are inclusive, accessible, and a part of very diverse communities”.16 “The power of the arts rally development forces and foster common-cause partnerships in a politically and socially diverse area”.17

The mayors agreed upon the importance of public-private partnerships, as experiences revealed, that a variety of these new mechanisms have been developed to maintain or increase supports for the arts.

Patrick L. Phillips, President of Economics Research Associates, Washington D.C.


1 Rem Koolhaas, Design Charette for MOMA 1997, image 29 at:

2 Image 3 at, and

3 See

4 Frank Lloyd Wright, 1958, Image 6 at:

5 Personal Interview with Karen Davidson, Deputy Director for Policy, Planning, and Administration MOMA, MOMA, New York, 17 January, 2001.

6 Personal Interview with Julian Zugazagoitia, Executive Assistant to the Director, Guggenheim Museum, New York, 18 January 2001.

7 See Laura Meyers, ABN Contributing Editor “Museum Growth Pays Off for Galeries”, 4 March 2001.

8 See

9 See Laura Meyers, ABN Contributing Editor “Museum Growth Pays Off for Galeries”, 4 March 2001 and

10 Press release “Mayor Giuliani awards Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation Waterfront Site to build major New Museum in New York City” 28 November 2000, at:

11 Laura Meyers, ABN Contributing Editor “Museum Growth Pays Off for Galeries”, 4 March 2001.

12 See Laura Meyers.

13 See Laura Meyers.

14 See Laura Meyers.

15 William H. Hudnutt III, “Art Scape” , Urban Land, Volume 60, Number 2, February 2001; ISSN 0042-0891, p.61.

16 William H. Hudnutt III “Art Scape”, p.61f.

17 Judith Rubin “Arts as Economic Catalyst”, Urban Land,Volume 60, Number 2, February 2001; ISSN 0042-0891, p.56.

Excerpt out of 15 pages


Architecture Art Museums and Urban Developments. Analysis
California State University, East Bay  (CalState Hayward)
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Architecture, Museums, Urban, Developments, Analysis
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Mag. Art., MBA Hannah Schwanzer (Author), 2001, Architecture Art Museums and Urban Developments. Analysis, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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