The Fundacio opened its doors in June 1990 in the building of the former Editorial Montaner i Simon publishing house, which was originally the work of the Modernist architect Lluis Domenech i Montaner.
Restored and refurbished by the architects Roser Amado and Lluis Domenech Girbau. Constructed between 1880 and 1885, at an early stage of the evolution of Catalan Modernism, the building was the first in the Eixample district to integrate industrial typology and technology, combining exposed brick and iron, into the fabric of the city centre.
The Montaner i Simon publishing house along with Antoni Gaudi's Casa Vicens, is one of the few remaining examples of a way of building that has now been lost. It also exemplifies the passing of an eclectic architectural style popular in the 19th century and the emergence of a new style, Art Nouveau, or Catalan Modernism. Lluis Domenech i Montaner and Antonio Gaudi established the architectural bases defining two different forms of development: Gaudi embodied an "expressionist" current, whilst Domenech i Montaner was more inclined towards rationalism.
Domenech i Montaner drew up the plans for the Montaner i Simon publishing house in 1879. The building embodies many of his concerns about architecture, which he did not see as an autonomous element, but as linked to a given social and historic context. He set out these views in an article published in the magazine La Renaixensa in 1878, entitled "En busca de una arquitectura nacional" ("Looking for a national architecture"). In it, more than reaching definitive conclusions or providing specific answers, he posed for the first time a series of questions about the need for a national architecture that was also, at the same time, an expression of the concerns of the new modern age.
The Fundacio's building is "hemmed in" between the two side walls of the adjacent buildings. To elevate its height and underscore its new identity, Antoni Tapies created the sculpture crowning the building entitled Nuvol i cadira (Cloud and Chair, 1990). This sculpture represents a chair jutting out of a large cloud. The chair, a recurring motif in Tapies' works, alludes to a meditative attitude and to aesthetic contemplation.
This building's facade combines classical stylistic influences, which are visible on the central doorway and the two symmetrical lateral volumes, and Muslim influences, as seen in the use of unpolished brick, classical Mozarabic elements and the arabesque-like geometrical composition.
The headquarters of the Fundacio Antoni Tapies was declared a historical monument in 1997.