he Guggenheim design mimics an upside-down ziggurat consisting of a large, top-lit interior court ringed by a
continuous spiral ramp. The dense mass of the ramp and exterior walls
separates the interior world of the museum from the citys streets, creating
a contemplative environment for viewing art. Visitors take an elevator to the top of the
museum and slowly descend its spiral gallery. Wright was roundly
criticized for the awkward exhibition spaces of the Guggenheim, whose curved
walls and sloped floor defy conventional display techniques.
The structure takes the cantilevered concrete floor of Wrights earlier
projects (for example, Fallingwater and the S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc. Research Laboratory Tower) and twists
it around a central court. Indirect light enters the building through
narrow windows which, on the exterior, separate the ramps levels. Negotiations with building department officials, shortages of materials and changes in the museums administration all delayed the beginning of construction until 1956. It was
completed in 1959, six months after Wrights death.