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Gehry's Colorful Panama Museum is Ready for Its Big Debut

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After a decade of construction, structural work has finished on Frank Gehry's Panama city biology museum, as it nears a very delayed October opening. Called the Biomuseo, this Playskool-colorful scrum of zigzaggy façades is the starchitect's first and only Latin American project.

Construction began on Biomuseo in 2004, with a $60M budget and a projected completion date of 2011. That date has been moved back multiple times due to funding issues, made worse by what Architectural Record once identified as "the gap between the construction standards called for by Gehry's design and the abilities of the local workforce." Designer Bruce Mau created the exhibitions, which focus on Panama's biodiversity, in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institute and the University of Panama.

"This has been a very personal project for me," says Gehry in a press release. "I feel close ties to the people of Panamá, and I believe strongly that we should all be trying to conserve biodiversity, which is threatened everywhere. I hope that the design by our team at Gehry Partners, and by my friend and colleague Bruce Mau, will make a real contribution toward the success of the important work of the Biomuseo."

Gehry's contemporary art museum in Paris, which broke ground in 2008, recently opened to high praise from critics. His design for the World Trade Center performing arts building was recently abandoned, and lawmakers look ready to leave his Eisenhower Memorial design behind as well.