In 1997, when Frank Gehry unveiled his very funky curving titanium museum in a backwater city in northern Spain ("Bil-where?"), few would have predicted the impact the building would have on both architecture and tourism. Ten years later, the so-called "Bilbao Effect"the idea that a mid-tier city can boost tourism by hiring big-name architects to give it a design makeoverhas been applied in destinations from Milwaukee and Minneapolis to Newcastle, England, and Abu Dhabi. The results have been mixed, but there's no question that sensational new architecture gets some people excited enough to get on a plane
In 2006, the hipper-than-thou New Yorkbased architecture practice Diller Scofidio + Renfrothat's husband-and-wife team Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio plus Charles Renfrounveiled Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art and made a splash in a city not known for its love of contemporary architecture. This place relies on some visual tricks to make an impact: The first-floor gallery, for instance, seems to hang over the surrounding waterfront, and from some angles looks like it's dangerously close to toppling over. A curved steel ribbon runs from the upstairs gallery to the downstairs public space and shoots though the glass lobby, giving the impression that it is the structure's sole support. This building's success has a lot to do with the way it connects to its surroundings, such as the bleacher-style seating and the fantastic window in the auditorium that both face the water.