This paper deals with the correspondences and convergences between Guggenheim Bilbao’s Frank Gehry and San Sebastian Kursaal’s Rafael Moneo. Authors of built work that helped insert Spain in the international flows of architecture in the 1990s, they stand as well as a manifestation of the opposition between the intellectual, scholar/architect and the visceral, artist/architect. One, in fact, attempts to disguise a cultured, rational design mind while exhibiting an irrational and accidental approach, the other portrays historical knowledge and academicism as drivers which hide intuitive and emotional decisions.
Based on the observation of two very similar corner architectural gestures, the paper argues that their fictional narrative based on history and art -Moneo’s historical academicism and Gehry’s artistical subjectivity- is present in the other’s practice. Almost identical, the coinciding formal serendipity found in a moment of the American Center in Paris and of the Prevision Espanola in Seville raises the question of the relationship between versioning, authorship, and surfacing in architecture. Fictional conflicts of type and invention, precision and accident, and shed or symbol will be framed within the artist vs the academic scenario and discussed with specific examples from two iconographic buildings.