3. Guggenheim Museum

From the moment Frank Lloyd Wright unveiled his design in 1945 to its opening in 1959 and up to today, the Guggenheim Museum has evoked strong, but mixed responses. As Lewis Mumford concluded, “this is an all-or-nothing building; one takes it on Wright’s terms or one does not take it at all.”

Joining Mumford in the latter camp was Wright’s second cousin by marriage, Robert Moses, who in 1947 saw it as “a gigantic inverted cup and saucer with a silo added for good luck, [that] has no functional advantages,” later updated in 1959 to an “inverted oatmeal dish and silo.” As for its creator, “when I look at Cousin Frank’s Guggenheim Museum, I know somebody has been afflicted with a complex, Oedipus or otherwise, and has been chasing the Id down the spiral ramps in a facile descent to Avernus.”

Vitriol notwithstanding, at the Guggenheim’s opening in 1959, months after Wright’s death, Cousin Bob revealed a behind the scenes role. “I can claim credit here only for successful efforts to keep Cousin Frank close to, if not quite within, the law.”