frank gehry: biomuseum in panama nearing completion frank gehry: biomuseum in panama nearing completion
oct 31, 2012

frank gehry: biomuseum in panama nearing completion

‘biomuseum’ by frank gehry, panama city, panama image © victoria murillo image courtesy of biomuseo




marking his first project in latin america, the ‘biomuseum’ (biomuseo) by canadian-born architect frank gehry aims to provide a scientific center to document and display the rich cultures of ocean and land species that originated in the panamanian isthmus, that consequently had a large impact on global biodiversity. funded by the amador foundation, backed by the government, with scientific support by the smithsonian institute and the university of panama, the project carries a great social importance for the country and region.

image courtesy of biomuseo image © victoria murillo




the 4.000 square meter footprint will contain eight permanent galleries designed by bruce mau, a public atrium, temporary exhibition spaces, a store, cafeteria, exterior exhibits and a botanical garden designed by edwina von gal. many of the structural elements will also become educational points, with a semi-interior colonnade of 16 pilars that will describe mankind’s effect on the panamanian ecosystem, two large aquariums that host the different aquatic species in the caribbean and pacific oceans. the panamarama, a three-storey space covered in 14 screens will create an audiovisual experience for the visitor, placing them directly into a digital history environment. the structure is based around thick concrete column trees with angular metal branches that hold up various metal-plated canopies resembling an array of colored curved and folded geometries, enveloped in large curtain walls.

image courtesy of biomuseo image © victoria murillo

image © victoria murillo image courtesy of biomuseo

image courtesy of biomuseo image © victoria murillo

image courtesy of biomuseo image © victoria murillo

image courtesy of biomuseo image © victoria murillo

image courtesy of biomuseo image © victoria murillo

image courtesy of biomuseo image © victoria murillo

roof construction image © victoria murillo image courtesy of biomuseo

la huella humana image courtesy of biomuseo

la huella humana image courtesy of biomuseo

oceanos divididos image courtesy of biomuseo

biodiversity gallery image courtesy of biomuseo

panamarama image courtesy of biomuseo

the grand exchange image courtesy of biomuseo

the grand exchange image courtesy of biomuseo

the bridge arises image courtesy of biomuseo

model image courtesy of biomuseo

model image courtesy of biomuseo

model image courtesy of biomuseo

model image courtesy of biomuseo

  • It looks like it wouldn\’t be out of place on the Jersey shore after Hurricane Sandy.

    oz says:
  • lol

    sy says:
  • interesting, but so non-bio, so non-organic. is it to inspire building with trash?

    nando says:
  • Can Frankie not make up his mind what materials to use?
    It would have been so much better if the orange bit had been a foot higher, and the red roof elements rotated about 5 degrees; and the yellow colour a little more lemony; and maybe the doors less recangular …..
    who knows if this is good design or garbage?

    mackenzie collins says:
  • Poor Panama, they’re victims of money and people who come with it to do nasty things, The interiors look more decent than the volume itself, I’ve seen it (just outside of course) when I went to Panama and it looks horrible in that caribbean paradise.

    mario says:
  • What is it a museum of, squatter houses?

    Mimi says:
  • The hurricane was terrible!!!

    Willy Drews says:
  • You just don\’t get it.
    The whole secret is quite simple: PEYOTE…

    But seriously, just think how amazing it will feel to be inside this structure during a really good tropical rainstorm… With rivers of water running off of all of those undulating rooflines? WOW– I mean, AY CARUMBA!– my friends!!!

    Hard to understand perhaps because not too many people travel to the tropics of Latin America. My mom was born in the US Canal Zone in Panama, so I\’ve done a bit of exploring in the region. All I can say is Gehry obviously understands not only the geography and the weather, but the people and their vibrant past and present culture as well.

    My sincere applause.

    Dr. Heywood Floyd says:
  • so many critics… yet they don’t see something so exciting: gehry is finally going back to his roots – if you look at this structure, it resembles more his early (post-mall designs) works in the late 70s and early 80s. his house in california for example, those pre-CATIA designs. i am, for one, very impressed and happy to see him going back to his most exciting designs.


    EA Berlin says:
  • Architects need like artist to evolve beyond past project designs. This looks like much of the same as far as the exerior of the building appears. The interior I am not critiquing. For a tropical paradise far more shapes taken from nature in my opinion should have been considered. Colors, patinas and surface treatments and materials would have softened the overal appearance of the structure making it less “in your face”. Going back to your roots does not neccessary translate into a design that embraces the place of the clients roots. This design bekons me not to travel to the country to see this piece of work. It belongs in North America were we continue to embrace, steel,stainless,concrete and crumpled paper roof profiles.

    Howard Sandy says:
  • What a pile of irrational junk!

    sultony says:
  • soooooo many joints!!!!!!

    Jose Coleman-Davis says:
  • es un proyecto feo y caotico…un leguaje de egocentrismo saturado de gehry-

    carcoll says:
  • This is like smoke screen, like somebody is trying to hide lack of design capabilities, even as sculpture is not descent.

    Hopeful says:
  • who needs another crash?

    Architecture Victim says:
  • I want to see where the water goes during a typical Panamanian rain storm.

    cz4ever says:
  • The king has no clothes on….

    storm says:
  • it looks to me pile of debries in construction site ,as an architect he should know that function creates the form not vice versa, he is a formalist,

    mash42 says:
  • I visited Panama 3 years ago and they were on the roof structure…it looks like there is still a lot to go. How long will it take to finish?? Not to mention how much will the overall cost be?

    Mel says:

have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.

comments policy
designboom's comment policy guidelines
generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

- please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
- please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
- please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
- please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
- please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
(there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
the best 100-200 entries too.)

a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

architecture news