Cornell likes to call architects the new rock stars and references
the trend of architects lending their likenesses to ads and earning
feature treatment in glossy magazines. (Oh. And the groupies.)
"It's almost as if 25 years ago it was archaeology, and then 15
years ago adventure travel took off, and now this is the age of
architecture and design," Cornell says.
For Tom Mercer, editor for the Let's Go travel guides, "the
Bilbao Effect" means more than the urge to travel to see new
architecture. "I like to look at it from the other side - What are
destinations doing to appeal to tourists, and I think that it means
that there is a higher level of consciousness among various cities
and destinations that by showcasing the architecture they have, or
by undertaking interesting building projects, they can garner
revenue from their own residents and from tourists," he says.
Mercer points to several examples of this in the United States: Los
Angeles hopes that the Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall will
help shift the city from a collection of suburbs to one with a
vibrant downtown; Japanese architect Tadao Ando's Modern Art Museum
in Fort Worth creates a triple-threat of interest to the city's
downtown along with Louis Kahn's Kimbell Art Museum and Philip
Johnson's Amon Carter Museum; and Santiago Calatrava's
142,050-square-foot addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum, which
Mercer believes will garner weekend visitors from places like
Chicago and beyond.
"I think people are very interested in what cities do with their
space and how cultures define themselves through architecture,"
Mercer says. "I also think people are recognizing that architecture
doesn't have to be old to be vital."