In 1998, the owners of Marques de Riscal winery, came up with the idea to combine production with additional space for leisure. The idea was to promote the wine and the vineyards, their culture, history, and philosophy by developing a City of wine. To promote tourism in the area, they also decided to add attractions like a museum, vinotherapy, training, and research centre. Architect Frank O Gehry, was invited to design the hotel Marqués de Riscal that would be built in the space. 

Timeline of Restoration: Hotel Marqués de Riscal (Elciego, Spain) - Sheet1
Marques de Riscal Hotel_©Shutterbug

True to his sculptural style, and paying ode to the spirit of La Rioja, Gehry designed the hotel. It swiftly rises from the ground, with colourful bands, and mixes into the horizon. Lyrical curves, compose a prism that floats above the ground, uprooted on only three columns. The complexity of the structure allows for a small play between the vineyards and the building itself. This avant-garde, functional sculpture is an architectural and engineering marvel. 

Pink, gold, and silver-hued canopies in titanium wrap the building. The hues of the canopy reflected different shades in sunlight, and are symbolic of a bottle of Marques de Riscal wine. 

The hotel was envisioned as a chateau amongst the vineyards. On appointing Starwood as the hotel manager, the first addition and expansion took place. A new building with fourteen new rooms was added. In totality, there are forty-three luxury suites and two gourmet restaurants

History | Hotel Marqués de Riscal

The winery was founded in 1858 by Guillermo Hurtado de Amezage. The winery was a splendid success and won several awards and accolades during its time. The early 1900s saw a steep decline in the winery’s fortunes owing to the phylloxera louse, but close to forty years later, it had regained its taste and quality. 

Marques de Riscal became a synonymous name with tradition and innovation in the winemaking areas of Rioja, around the late 1900s. It is today the second best in the world. 

Timeline of Restoration: Hotel Marqués de Riscal (Elciego, Spain) - Sheet2
Hotel Marqués de Riscal-Canopy Structure_©Divisare


The renowned hotel we see today was opened to the public in 2006. The reconstruction of the old winery began in 2000. It was envisioned as a new and modern and elegant take on the winery, with avant-garde architectural technology

The challenge lay in developing a structural system that adhered to the fundamental idea of irregular architecture. This building’s hybrid structural solution combines steel, reinforced concrete, and prestressed concrete systems. The main focus of the steel is on the canopies, whose main structure is mostly made of concrete. Several structural bases shape the structure. The only three pillars of the building are the three super columns that house the elevators and stairs. In addition to providing lateral stability and resistance to horizontal loads, these super columns also serve as the foundation for the building’s vertical loads.

Gehry designed these super columns that start nine meters below the hotel entrance and cross the big bin of Marques de Riscal, the building’s elevation affords spectacular views of all bottling plants. The building’s straight facades are made of stone. The corners are made of titanium and stainless steel, and there are large windows.

A second plant, a mezzanine for service, and a lounge for hotel guests are located on the first floor, where all of the hotel’s bedrooms are.

Although they do not impose a significant burden on the building as a whole, the intricate shapes of canopies can have the effect of sailing by concentrating the wind in specific areas. The prestressed concrete system is used to absorb the wind loads of the buildings. It had to be worked out in phases to avoid shrinkage and achieve maximum strength. Through the steel profiles that anchor, the system, loads are sent directly to one of the building’s floors to the main structure. Metal beams that are continuously curved can be redistributed throughout the structure to ensure that no point in the package reaches the critical situation. 

The secondary structure is made up of straight galvanised T profiles that serve as “rules” for the final surface. High-strength bolts join all of these profiles together. They are preparing curved galvanised tubes with a diameter of 30mm and a distance of 50cm from one another. These tubes define the final and curve surface and are riveted around stainless steel or titanium-colored plates, allowing for some slack without creating the same hole as if it could produce directly on the tube.

A structure similar to that of Canopies is used to construct the curved walls. Among the profiles, T-i tubes provide a skin of galvanized sheet that is within six inches of rock wool felt that is reinforced with aluminum.

2020, saw a second cycle of addition and retrofit in the hotel. Architect Cesar Caicoya was in charge of this extension. He added new 18 rooms to the previously designed 43. Today, after 150-plus years after its founding, the Gehry structure is the mark and symbol for the winery and the wine city. It greets its visitors in its splendid wine cellars, with sun-struck wine-hued titanium.

Gehry’s Sketch_©Marques de Riscal