If there is a building that symbolizes the transformation of Bilbao and put the city on the international stage, it is the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. It was in October of 1997 when the building opened its doors to the public becoming, almost instantly, one of the most remarkable and recognizable structures of the twentieth century. Almost two decades later, the Guggenheim continues to attract one million visitors a year, all as interested in seeing the blockbuster exhibitions on display as much as visiting the building itself.
Designed by Frank O. Gehry & Associates, the building was a feat of design and construction. The use of digital modeling, including the now famous CATIA, and other innovations opened the door to a new generation of architecture that defined in the beginnings of the twenty-first century. The Chicago office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), one of the leading architecture and engineering firms in the world and responsible for many remarkable buildings in their own right, served as the structural engineer for the building with Bilbao-based IDOM as the local engineer. It was a unique collaboration that proved to be a major success.