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date: 21 September 2021

Abstract and Keywords

With a focus on the exemplary Bilbao case, this chapter shows how iconic architecture plays a fundamental role in the deployment of contemporary globalized urbanization and the increased desire of urban elites to surrender to the promise, and discontents, of iconic urban megaprojects (IUMPS). The chapter contends that the key to understanding the intensification and spreading of the belief by many urban elites worldwide that iconic architecture alone can revitalize an urban economy is to be found not in the financial feasibility and economic impacts of IUMPs, but rather in the force of iconic architecture to transform a city’s image. This explains why the planning and construction of IUMPs has grown into a standard policy choice by urban and regional elites in globalizing cities, and why politicians, business leaders, and others in local and regional growth machines fulfill their personal and professional ambitions by investing in and promoting IUMPs.

Keywords: urban megaprojects, architecture, Bilbao, city image, growth machines, urban revitalization, business

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