Designed by American architect Richard Meier in 1992, this gleaming explosion of light and geometry in the darkest corner of El Raval houses a permanent collection of contemporary art, and regularly mounts special thematic exhibitions of works on loan. Meier gives a nod to Gaudí (with the Pedrera-like wave on one end of the main facade), but his minimalist building otherwise looks a bit like the scaffolding hadn't been taken down yet. That said, the MACBA is unarguably
an important addition to the cultural capital of this once-shabby neighborhood. Skateboarders weave in and out around Basque sculptor Jorge Oteiza's massive black, blocky La Ola (The Wave) in the courtyard; the late Eduardo Chillida's Barcelona (donated by the Sara Lee Corporation!) covers half the wall in the little square off Calle Ferlandina, on the left of the museum, in the sculptor's signature primitive black geometrical patterns. The MACBA's 20th-century art collection (Calder, Rauschenberg, Oteiza, Chillida, Tàpies) is excellent, as is the guided tour: a useful introduction to the philosophical foundations of contemporary art as well as the pieces themselves.