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Abandoibarra: Bilbao's New Heart
The Abandoibarra project covers nearly a full square mile along the Nervión estuary. Formerly occupied by docks, warehouses, and shipyards, two-thirds of this new urban center are now parks and open spaces. Javier López Chollet's 280,000-square-foot Ribera Park borders the Parque de Doña Casilda between the Guggenheim and Palacio de Euskalduna. This green space joins the quais of La Naja, Ripa, and Uribitarte to connect with the Olabeaga park downriver, creating a riverside promenade more than 3 km (2 miles) long.
The head architect for the project is the Connecticut-based César Pelli, designer of New York's World Financial Center and its Winter Garden fronting the Hudson River. Offices are also part of the project, as well as five apartment blocks and a residential building by Basque architect Luis Peña Ganchegui. Other buildings include the Meliá Bilbao Hotel (formerly the Sheraton Bilbao) by the Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta; and American Robert Stern's shopping and leisure center, Zubiarte. Flanking the riverside thoroughfare named for Bilbao businessman and benefactor Ramón Rubial are the auditorium of the University of the Basque Country and the Deusto University library. Pedro Arrupe's footbridge, an exercise in rationalism with a simple geometrical form, connects Abandoibarra and Deusto University. The footbridge creates a complete urban promenade joining the Avenue of the Universities, the riverside walk, and the new streets of Abandoibarra, the culminating act of the revitalized, 21st-century Bilbao.
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