The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, designed by Frank Gehry, is scheduled to begin construction after more than ten years in the making.
Located next to the Louvre Abu Dhabi on Saadiyat Island in the Persian Gulf, the massive structure will consist of plaster blocks and translucent self-cooling cones. At 30,000sqm, it will be 12 times the size of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim New York, and overall the largest Guggenheim museum yet.
As the building will be surrounded by water on three sides, its unique structure can act as a breakwater, protecting Saadiyat Island’s north beach zone.
The museum will host art in all forms from around the world, including a large selection of Middle Eastern art that tells the history of art throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.
There has been some controversy around construction on Saadiyat Island, with reports that foreign construction workers were being abused through withholding of wages and unsafe working conditions. This led over 130 international artists to call for a boycott of the new Guggenheim museum (as well as Louvre Abu Dhabi).
Gehry responded to this by working with Abu Dhabi officials to implement laws to improve labor conditions at the site. Gehry encouraged the Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC) to build more worker housing, and an independent monitor was instated to issue reports on the labor conditions each quarter.
While there is no set timeline for construction, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi is expected to be complete in the next four years.
Image credit: Gehry Partners