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Frank Gehry introduced a new era in architecture with the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. The expressive quality of the building signaled to both architects and critics alike that an important change had occurred; yet, the most important issues were not discerned through an examination of its style alone. Noteworthy are the Guggenheim's design and building processes which mark a paradigm shift in architectural historiography and pedagogy. The museum comprises three significant over-arching ideas which Gehry repeats in subsequent constructions: an unprecedented use of e-technology to design and build, an extensive and innovative use of architectural language, including Jacques Derrida's "deconstruction," and a sensitive awareness of cultural memory and history. Furthermore, the design and construction of the Guggenheim Museum have created a ripple effect throughout the architectural world, altering pedagogical models and introducing new styles. Using e-technology to design and construct the Guggenheim Museum, Gehry effectively mirrored society's transformation from industrial to post-industrial. Therefore, this museum serves as the earliest model of society's change to a ubiquitous incorporation of e-technology, while representing a historical architectural shift from industrial construction to technological construction. As a result of the immense transpositions and transformations Gehry created in architecture, a new discourse has been opened among architects and critics alike. Now termed "The Bilbao Effect," this new dialogue challenges ideas of architecture as economic tool used for urban revitalization. Furthermore, "The Bilbao Effect" incorporates issues of signature designs and a new "mechanization" of architectural design. This dissertation briefly outlines the beginning dialogue of "the Bilbao effect." Furthermore, I demonstrate that the Guggenheim Bilbao is a new style—Techno-Morphism—a term I have coined. Since the museum is both formed and informed by e-technology, technomorphism is also a process. This process is due to Gehry's employment of CATIA, a multi-faceted aeronautic software which includes CAD (Computer Aided Drafting), CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing), and CAE (Computer Aided Engineering) capabilities. This highly sophisticated software streamlined the processes Gehry needed to produce more "artistic" buildings, while being cost effective. I have also demonstrated that Gehry's use of CATIA for design and construction finalized the mechanized industrial age, prevalent in the mid-nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Art History in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Lauren Weingarden, Professor Directing Dissertation; William Cloonan, Outside Committee Member; Cynthia Hahn, Committee Member; Robert Neuman, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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