The structure itself was designed by Frank Gehry
, and resembles many of his firm's other works in its sheet-metal construction, such as Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
, Walt Disney Concert Hall
and Gehry Tower
. Much of the building material is exposed in the building's interior. The building contains 140,000 square feet (13,000 m2), with a 35,000-square-foot (3,300 m2) footprint.
The outside of the building is as stimulating as what is on the inside. A fusion of textures and myriad of colors, the museum structure symbolizes the energy and fluidity of music. The exterior consists of stainless steel and painted aluminum shingles, each individually cut and shaped. The stainless steel has three finishes: mirrored purple, lightly brushed silver, and bead-blasted gold. The red and blue sections are painted aluminum. Each finish takes on an exciting and unique shade when viewed from different angles around the building. The red will fade with time, altering the appearance of the building's exterior and reflecting how music is ever changing. There are over 3,000 panels covering the exterior skin of EMP, each panel holding about seven shingles. Each shingle is a unique shape and size, cut and bent to fit exactly in its designed location. A total of 21,000 shingles cover the EMP exterior.