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Can Frank Gehry deliver the Bilbao effect in Panama?

Can Frank Gehry deliver the Bilbao effect in Panama?


Fifteen years after the completion of the Guggenheim Bilbao, Frank Gehry is close to finishing his first project in Latin America where officials have high hopes that his Museum of Biodiversity (or Biomuseo) will emerge as a new icon for Panama and become a cultural destination, like the small shipbuilding town of Bilbao.

Responding to the current biodiversity crisis – a crisis ushered in by the loss of habitat, the extinction of thousands of plant and animal species and the rapid dwindling of the last frontiers on earth – the Biomuseo aims to play a role in preserving the world's natural heritage for the future by telling stories about nature's wonders “with the most alluring, educational and conscience-building impact.”

Gehry's building shows no trace of its ecological agenda – rather he has applied his signature formal fragmentations to create an eclectic structure that collages shape and colour, designed to deliver the Bilbao effect.
Image: Frank Gehry's Biomuseo in Panama City.