Guggenheim Museum Guadalajara
Guadalajara, Mexico

Asymptote’s Guggenheim Guadalajara Museum projects a strong iconic architectural presence on a unique and spectacular site. The Museum sits perched like a glistening mirage on the edge of the city, an enigmatic form that floats above the pristine landscape. The taught sculptural forms of the architecture seem precisely contoured to meet the ever-changing sky creating a new horizon for Guadalajara. Here, where the dense city edge meets the astonishing vastness of the Barranca landscape the siting and architecture of the Museum create an unparalleled spatial experience for the visitor. By lifting the Museum off the ground and elevating it above the precipitous edge of the Barranca a new kind of public space is created. This extension of the city that projects out towards the limitless horizon of the natural landscape is a spectacular urban balcony that functions simultaneously as a dramatic viewing platform, a gateway, a gathering place, an urban theater and an outdoor exhibition space. Defined by the four sculptural corner building volumes that rise up from the ground plane and the sweeping undulating surfaces of the museum suspended above, this remarkable space that transitions between the city and the extraordinary expanse of the canyon beyond is the threshold to the Museum itself. In this dynamic public space visitors can access the diverse public amenities housed in the corner buildings, wander among large scale sculptures on exhibit or enter the Museum interior via its dramatically ascending escalators set against an extraordinary panorama.


While overlooking the astonishing landscape the visitor rises from the plaza level to arrive in a large scale twisting cylindrical glass entry volume that extends the full height of the building interior and from there into the central atrium which is the main interior public space of the Museum. This multi-storey space is a highly animated public domain that also provides a clear separation between the ticketed gallery spaces above and the publicly accessible spaces of the atrium and lower levels. The atrium itself is a suspended horizontal landscape formed by the undulating surfaces of the floor and the surrounding building shell that house a range of publicly accessible amenities such as café, museum shop, visitor services, reading room, education center and theaters. The main exhibition spaces are located on two upper levels connected by bridges and balconies that overlook the atrium space while a special Multimedia Gallery located on a lower level in the southwest corner is directly accessible from the atrium.


While the museum architecture is a unique and powerful presence on the site and its interior accommodates a variety of architecturally impressive public spaces the building nonetheless prioritizes the museum program and the primacy that art must have within it. The exhibition spaces are housed in generously scaled flexible enclosures that are suspended from a structure integrated with the building shell. The galleries are interconnected by horizontal bridges overlooking the atrium and vertical circulation that occupies the space between the gallery volumes and the building shell where the sculptural elegance of the building shell is exposed and the full height of the building interior is experienced. The back of house programs are accessed by an elevator core that extends from below grade up into the tower while also connecting the plaza, the atrium level, all gallery floors and a roof terrace. On the upper most levels of the tower a publicly accessible museum restaurant offers views of both the swelling forms of the architecture and the spectacular panorama of the Barranca. The dazzling tiled architectonic shell of the museum is here seen one sculptural and fluid landscape that is set against the exhilarating backdrop of another. From here one contemplates the entire horizon, the culmination of a unique and remarkable architectural experience and cultural journey.