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Chapter 2 The Alleged Bilbao Miracle and its Discontents

Urban Megaprojects: A Worldwide View

ISBN: 978-1-78190-593-7, eISBN: 978-1-78190-594-4

ISSN: 1047-0042

Publication date: 16 May 2013


This chapter outlines and explains the development of the Abandoibarra megaproject, focusing in particular on the key role of the Bilbao Ría 2000 – an innovative cross institution, public–private partnership, responsible for coordinating the transfer of land between public and private agents. The chapter critically assesses the impact of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, the centerpiece in the Abandoibarra scheme. The narrative is based on fieldwork conducted by the author in the city of Bilbao. The chapter utilizes scholarly research, official sources, and reports in the news media to support the arguments. The chapter questions the viability of revitalization schemes based on urban megaprojects. Applying some of the elements in the revitalization mix to most cities may be unavoidable due to rapid and acritical adoption of policy discourses from center to periphery, but expecting to replicate one city's success in another context may prove extremely hard. The motivations of the Basque political elite to attract a Guggenheim museum go beyond the potential (and we might add, limited) urban regeneration benefits of a building, and can only be understood within the political context of the Basque Country and its relations with Spain. The case of Bilbao's revitalization has attracted significant attention as of late. This chapter uncovers the key issues surrounding Bilbao's transformation and puts the process in the context of capitalist globalization and the formation of globalizing cities.



del Cerro Santamaría, G. (2013), "Chapter 2 The Alleged Bilbao Miracle and its Discontents", del Cerro Santamaría, G. (Ed.) Urban Megaprojects: A Worldwide View (Research in Urban Sociology, Vol. 13), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 27-59.



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