Guggenheim honors building architect Frank Lloyd Wright with exhibit

ByChristina Zapata WABC logo
Tuesday, April 7, 2015

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Many components make up a great city, its iconic landmarks being one of them, and New York has The Guggenheim to thank.

In honor of legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright, The Guggenheim hosted "Art in the Round: Architecture Tour" about his design for the building on April 6, 2015.

"Wright believed that rectangular spaces were like coffins for the human soul," gallery educator Elisabeth Bardt-Pellerin said. "He wanted to create spaces that made you feel good."

In 1943, Hilla Rebay, an adviser to businessman Solomon R. Guggenheim, sent a letter to Wright asking him to be the architect.

Rebay knew of Wright's works and wanted him to "create a temple for the human soul," Bardt-Pellerin said. "Wright believed that if you are deprived of nature, you are deprived of spirituality."

It is no coincidence that The Guggenheim is so different from any other building, as Wright had an intentional meaning for each square inch.

From both the inside and outside of the building, its spiral-like shape and inverted structure are evident. It gets wider as it goes up.

Wright wanted that shape because it is often represented in nature, and the inverted structure idea came from the premise that buildings should grow upwards like plants, Bardt-Pellerin said.

Due to the unconventional design of the building, the structural soundness is quite unique. Since most of the ramps and floors going upwards seem to float with nothing underneath, what holds it all together are three columns, one of which has the elevator inside of it, along with 12 divisions on the ceiling. He used the ceiling as a central force to provide stability.

"Wright referred to nature as his bible and insisted that the museum be built by Central Park to bring people closer to nature," she said.

Wright wanted as much natural light to flow through as possible, so he created the slits on the outside of the rotunda to bring in natural light.

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Modern Art Museum officially opened in October of 1959, six months after Wright died.

Much like the works that hang inside, the museum itself is a masterpiece, one of 532 that Wright completed in his lifetime.