Aside from attracting a huge level of media interest, the record-breaking competition to design the Guggenheim Museum’s planned outpost in Helsinki also generated a significant level of criticism – not least from Michael Sorkin and his collaborators, who launched a counter-competition seeking alternative suggestions for how the site could be used. In this article, originally published on Metropolis Magazine as “‘We Mean to Be Provocateurs’: Michael Sorkin on the Next Helsinki Competition,” Zachary Edelson interviews Sorkin on his reaction to the Guggenheim’s shortlist, his hopes for his own competition, and the critical role that museums play in the worlds of both art and architecture.
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation is famous for its Fifth Avenue museum, but its 1997 Frank Gehry-designed Bilbao outpost famously catapulted its small Basque host city to new levels of international renown. The city’s tourism revenue quickly helped recoup the museum’s extensive costs: $100 million for design and construction, subsidies towards a $12 million annual budget, $50 million for an acquisitions fund, and $20 million to the Guggenheim for its name, curatorial services, and the use of parts of its collection. Within three years, visitors’ spending had garnered $110 million and by 2013 more than 1 million had entered the gleaming metallic structure. Many have tried to replicate Bilbao’s success but opposition against such massive expenditures always looms. In this case, it has manifested in a rival competition led by New York-based architect and writer Michael Sorkin and titled The Next Helsinki.
In just three short years, Frank Gehry’s 450,000-square-foot Guggenheim Abu Dhabi will open. More than 12 times the size of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim New York, the expansive $800 million museum will showcase 1960s art from around the world within an asymmetrical mountain of plaster blocks and self-cooling translucent cones. Anticipating its completion, the New York Times sat down with Gehry to hear the story behind the building’s design. Watch the full interview with Gehry, here.
With 1,715 entries submitted, the Guggenheim Helsinki Competition has become the most popular architectural competition in history. Only six proposals have made it through to the final round, however we believe there is something to be learned from the hundreds of proposals that didn’t make the cut. Therefore, if you participated in the Guggenheim Helsinki Competition and would like ArchDaily’s team of architects and editors to review your proposal for publication, we ask you to submit your proposal here (under “Submit an event, competition, award, news”) by Wednesday, December 10. All proposals submitted after this deadline will not be considered. Take a look after the break for the required format for submitting project materials.
Architects have always pushed the limit, often experimenting with forms and technologies unavailable in their time. In the last 20 years, we experienced a small revolution in thinking about spaces and embracing complexity, as computers started to show their real power. Since Gehry’s Guggenheim came to life in the mid nineties, nothing has been the same: free forms emerge everywhere from the dreamland to reality (often becoming someone else’s nightmare). Before this computer technology, except for the realm of the mind and clay modeling, real control over complexity through technical drawings was too hard a game for us ordinary mortals but eventually, in the last 10 years or so more powerful and cheaper computers and even cheaper software, capable of astonishing parametric-generated design elements, came out. Since then, new generations of designers have started to set free mind-blowing ideas, showing the world amazing computer generated pictures. Some architects even started to build them.
But how widespread is parametric design technology? How does it influence architecture worldwide? We started to analyse the Guggenheim Helsinki Design Competition, the largest architectural design competition in world history.
The Guggenheim has announced the finalists in the competition to design Guggenheim Helsinki, whittling down the entrants from a record-breaking 1,715 submissions to just six. Representing both emerging and established practices with offices in seven countries, the shortlisted entries show a variety of responses to the challenge of creating a world-class museum.
The six finalists are:
- AGPS Architecture Ltd. (Zurich, Switzerland and Los Angeles, United States of America)
- Asif Khan Ltd. (London, United Kingdom)
- Fake Industries Architectural Agonism (New York, United States of America; Barcelona, Spain; and Sydney, Australia)
- Haas Cook Zemmrich STUDIO2050 (Stuttgart, Germany)
- Moreau Kusunoki Architect (Paris, France)
- SMAR Architecture Studio (Madrid, Spain and Western Australia)
Read on after the break to see all six designs in detail, as well as the jury’s comments on each.
By now, when the design competition for the Guggenheim Helsinki is mentioned, one number probably comes to mind: 1,715, the record-breaking number of submissions which the competition received. But how can this number be put into perspective? Why, with more numbers of course. Take 5,769 for example, which is the total height in meters of all the A1 presentation boards arranged vertically. Or take 18,336,780, the estimated value in Euros of all the work submitted.
Check out this great video from Taller de Casquería, which gives a rundown of all of the mind-blowing statistics generated by the competition, and concludes with this strong message to the Guggenheim itself: “These are incredible figures that show the impact that the Guggenheim Foundation has throughout the world… Guggenheim should document this to recognize their success in helping to shape a global community, dedicated to visual culture.”
Architect and scholar Troy Conrad Therrien has been appointed as the Guggenheim’s new Curator of Architecture and Digital Initiatives. Therrien will now contribute to the development of the museum’s engagement with architecture, design, technology, and urban studies, in addition to providing leadership on select new projects under the direction of the Chief Curator and the Director’s Office.
“Advancing innovative programming that relates to architecture, technology, and urban studies, particularly on a global stage, is a priority for the Guggenheim,” Richard Armstrong, director of the Guggenheim stated. “Troy’s impressive and dynamic background spanning academia, architecture, and computer science should expand our forward-looking curatorial team.” Read the complete press release, here.
— Rob Fiehn (@Rob_Fiehn) October 22, 2014
The news that every single one of the 1,715 designs for the future Guggenheim Museum in Helsinki have been released via a new competition website was understandably something of a media storm earlier this week. As the largest ever set of proposals to be simultaneously released to the public, how could anyone possibly come to terms with the sheer number and quality of the designs – let alone all the other issues which the proposals shed light on?
In this instance, the answer to that question is simple: get help. Guggenheim Helsinki will arguably go down in history as the prototypical competition for the social media age, not just for releasing the designs to the public but for their platform which enables people to select favorites, and compile and share shortlists. In the days since the website launched, Twitter users have risen to the challenge. See what some of them had to say after the break.
The competition for the new Guggenheim Museum in Helsinki closed last month, becoming the most popular architectural competition in history with 1,715 entries. Now, competition organizers Malcolm Reading Consultants have made every single one available to view online, with each anonymous proposal presented in a series of two images, and a short description fro the architects. “Since its inception, this competition has been organized to be welcoming, inclusive, and transparent, and the gallery presents a singular opportunity for the public to explore and consider the broad expanse of entries,” says Richard Armstrong, Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation.
Competition organizer Malcolm Reading added: “For anyone interested in design, the gallery is a tremendous resource that offers rare insight into the design process and further illustrates how the vision for a Guggenheim Helsinki… [has] captured the imagination of architects around the world.”
And indeed, the website does provide a tremendous tool: with such a huge volume of entries, the database and its associated tagging system offer an interesting way to probe the architectural zeitgeist: for example, it seems ‘curved’ buildings are almost twice as popular as ‘straight’ buildings; and ‘opaque’ buildings are still unpopular, being outpaced by ‘transparent’ buildings by almost five to one, despite the traditionally opaque museum typology.
But when it comes to architectural quality, where do you even begin with 1,715 proposals? The competition’s website has that covered too, with a favorites button, a six-building shortlist tool and a search-by-registration tool. ArchDaily is here to help too: after the break, we’ve hand-picked 50 of the most exciting, unusual, interesting and simply absurd proposals for you to start talking about.
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is planning to construct a second location in New York City. As reported on the Art Newspaper, the expansion project, known as the “Collection Center,” aims to “consolidate its staff and art storage into one efficient, multi-use building with a dynamic public programming component.” The news broke with the release of a curatorial job position, seeking personnel to assist in the center’s planning and a possible architecture competition that will ensure the “Guggenheim’s reputation for being a visionary architectural patron” is preserved. Meanwhile, the Guggenheim is expected to narrow its selection to six for its new Helsinki location in November.
The Art Newspaper reports that the Guggenheim will launch an international competition on June 4th to find an architect to design a satellite in Helsinki, Finland focused on “Nordic and international architecture and design, and their connection contemporary art.”
At the conclusion of the architectural competition, a decision will be made about whether or not to go through with the project. According to ArchDaily contributor and Helsinki resident, Laura Iloniemi, the potential museum has already stirred up considerable excitement – and debate – in Finland. Discover more details at The Art Newspaper.
The Guggenheim is planning a new museum in Helsinki. The site is in the heart of the city, next door to the late 19th Century market hall and open-air market place, two minutes from Helsinki Cathedral. The project, therefore, has great landmark potential for the city. And many Finns are lured by this very potential, wanting to increase tourism and put their capital city more evidently on the world map. There has also been discussion in the country’s main newspaper Helsingin Sanomat about how Finns should welcome a more joyous and fun architecture.
Destination-creation and architecture as entertainment are certainly strong themes of our times. They were treated with great artistry by Frank Gehry with the Bilbao Guggenheim, opened in 1997. However, it’s important to remember that the Bilbao Guggenheim might best be considered a spectacular one-off. Mayors, politicians and world leaders have since sought, in perhaps too facile a way, to rebrand their cities and countries with iconic landmarks. There has been much talk of making cities “world class” through such architectural gestures, and yet much of this marketer’s fodder is wholly out of touch with what makes great architecture great.
With one of his largest installations to date, American artist James Turrell has transformed the rotunda of Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic Guggenheim Museum into a mesmerizing Skyspace. Shifting between natural and artificial light, Aten Reign – James Turrell’s main attraction – illuminates the central void with a brightly colored, banded pattern that imitates the museum’s famous ramps. This presents a dynamic perceptual experience in which the materiality of light is exposed.
More images after the break.
With his first exhibition in a New York museum since 1980, James Turrell will dramatically transform the sinuous curves of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim Museum into one of the largest Skyspaces he has ever mounted. Opening on summer solstice, June 21, 2013, the temporary installation Aten Reign will give form museum’s central void by creating what Turrell has described as “an architecture of space created with light.”
This video is just a sneak peak of the exterior projections to be expected on the facade of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim Museum in New York this evening. It will be a full live streamed event 8pm ET where 25 videos selected by the jury for YouTube Play: A Biennial of Creative Video will be featured. This is the inaugural event held by YouTube Play: Live from the Guggenheim.
Did you know that ArchDaily has it’s own Vimeo site? Be sure to take a look.
What time will the live stream happen in your city: 1am (Oct 22) London, 2am CET – Paris, Amsterdam, Madrid, Berlin, Rome, 4am Moscow, 9am Tokyo, 11am Sydney.
In the next six years, a new collaboration between the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and the BMW Group is seeking to explore various issues of urban life. Three labs, which will be assigned a theme, an architect, and a graphic designer, will be placed in major cities that will engage the public, bringing people together to discuss and experiment with new ideas. Traveling across the globe, the labs will interact with people from all different backgrounds and cultures with the intention to shed light upon a broad spectrum of issues.
More about the exhibition after the break.