CLIENT Sociedad Bilbao Ria 2000 / SIZE 2.5 acres / 10,117 m2 / STATUS Completed 2012 / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates / LANTEC (Local Partner) / PHOTO CREDIT Iwan Baan / Borja Gomez / Efrain Mendez
Plaza Euskadi connects the nineteenth century section of the city called “El Ensanche” to the new section of Bilbao, Deusto university campus, the Guggenheim Museum, and the Nervión River. The Plaza is a pivot, unifying diverse elements of the city. Apart from the Museum of Fine Arts and historic residential buildings, the plaza is surrounded by contemporary buildings such as university and library buildings, a shopping mall, a subway station, hotels, residential buildings, an office skyscraper, designed by different architects including Gehry, Moneo, Pelli, Siza, Krier, Legorreta, and Stern.
Oval in form, the plaza has two forms of circulation: a tree-lined perimeter path for leisurely walks and sitting, and a dominant central path which brings the people from downtown to Abandoibarra to the Campa de los Ingleses Park, The Rivers, and the pedestrian bridge crossing the river to Deusto University and its neighborhoods.
Three public park “pockets” hook onto the sides of the central path, which provide colorful and playful seating made from recycled rubber. Each pocket has a different character: an amphitheater section with reflection puddles, an ottoman seating section, and a “garden” section of flowering shrubs with a 100 year old Laegostremia tree.
In 2008 the construction of the plaza was impacted by the economic downturn in Spain leading to a complete re-design. The final design cost was half of the original construction budget which required the removal of fountains, a more modest planting and grading scheme, and a shift in materials.