Photos courtesy Biomusueo, copyright Victoria Murillo.
Even though Frank Gehry's new Biomuseo has received support from Panama's federal government, the Smithsonian Institute, the Amador Foundation and the University of Panama, as well as reserved but positive commentary from a smattering of architecture blogs, we're a little surprised that we're the one of the first, if not in fact the very first site to admit that our skepticism of Gehry's original plans has not been alleviated by images of the final phases of the building's construction. While some might call the disjointed roofline a signature Gehry move, it might also be a case of an old dog unable to learn any new tricks.
We know it's unfair to critique a project before the proverbial ribbon has been cut, and we welcome your input and comments, but we can't help but liken the angled, metal rooftop to a crumpled, jumbled scrap heap. Far calmer and cleaner is the interior design by Bruce Mau, which includes eight permanent galleries, temporary exhibition spaces, a public atrium and a three-story digital 'Panamarama' covered in 14 screens that, according to Mau, will take visitors along a "thematic path [with] exhibits [that go] beyond the mere illustration of ideas to become functional models whose effects bridge art and science."
We'll revisit the site again once construction is complete, and we hope we can give a favorable review if only for Panama's sake, but for now the future of the Biomuseo looks slightly crooked.