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Prado Museum Extension

Photographer: Michael Moran

Architect/Designer: Rafael Moneo

Client: Rafael Moneo

Location: Madrid, Spain

Shoot Date:
October 01, 2007
For Spaniards, the Prado is hallowed ground, with its unmatched collections of works by Velázquez, Goya, El Greco, and other European masters, accumulated over five centuries by two royal dynasties. The need to update and enlarge the Prado’s ancillary services required an unusual alliance between Spain’s two opposing political parties, which have alternated in power during the 12-year span of the museum’s expansion. The project was entrusted to Moneo, who at 70 is the country’s most respected architect, after a circuitous process that began with an inconclusive open international competition in 1995. Ten finalists were selected from 483 entries and invited to participate in a second competition in 1998 with a more defined program, after which Moneo was awarded the commission.
Currently receiving two million visitors a year, the Villanueva building required new space for entry vestibules, ticketing, cloakrooms, group tours, and educational facilities, as well as a larger shop, cafeteria, and auditorium, all of which Moneo accommodated in the partially underground visitors center he added to the back of the building. The addition is organized longitudinally along a continuous line of clerestory glass that inundates the space with light, setting off its limestone floors and its bronze ceiling strips, windows, and custom chandeliers.
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