Thursday, September 29, 2016

Barcelona's Torre Agbar - Past and Future

By Javier Castillo - September/29/2016


Depending on whom you ask you will get different opinions regarding Barcelona's Torre Agbar. Some people love the building while others see it as an eyesore, disrupting the cities emblematic skyline. Some residents describe it as a bullet, while others have a more lecherous imagination when referring to its profile. Regardless of what you think, the building, which got its design inspiration from the nearby mountains of Montserrat and was created to resemble the shape of water shooting upwards from a geyser, is reinventing itself for the coming years. As an official landmark and recognizable symbol of Barcelona, not to mention one of the most photographed monuments in the city, the building will soon give up its public function.

For the last 11 years it has been home to the Barcelona Water Company, yet more recently it has been sold off to the Westmont Hospitality Group (WHG) for close to $150M which will convert it into a luxury hotel. The deal wasn’t a smooth transition as current mayor Ada Colao and her agenda to freeze the issuing of licences for new hotels and holiday homes caused some initial difficulties. Colao had to settle in the end and permit the transaction due to pressure by several parties involved, as well as other binding legal reasons.

Torre Agbar was designed by Jean Nouvel, the same architect that renovated the Fábrica Moritz - Bar & Restaurant in Barcelona and which I wrote about here. The design is reminiscent of London’s own "The Gherkin" building. With its noticeable 38 stories it is one of Barcelona's tallest buildings and when the hotel is finally inaugurated it will then be the second tallest hotel in the city (behind the Hotel Arts Barcelona). When the hotel will actually open its doors is still to be determined but now that it has settled some of the municipal procedures and will soon procure its licensing paperwork, the next steps are the remodeling phase and once that's finished, the official grand opening.