The Guggenheim Helsinki Competition Draws 1,715 Entries From Around The World

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Winning Entry by Moreau Kusunoki Architectes

The Guggenheim Helsinki Winners on Stage in New York  by Jayne Merkel

 

Staging a completely open, international competition for one of their museum projects marked a significant departure for the Guggenheim Foundation. The Bilbao Museum had been an invited competition won by Frank Gehry, and the more recent Whitney Museum project in New York was a Renzo Piano commission. So the Helsinki Guggenheim project—though without any guarantee from the Finns that it will be built—was open to all comers, completely absent of shortlisting based on size of office or any history of built projects. But this was Finland, and that Scandinavian country is known for opening up important projects to international competitors—the most recent Helsinki Library and Serlachius Museum competitions being prime examples.

The soothing circular auditorium beneath the rotunda of Frank Lloyd Wright’s New York Guggenheim Museum was an unusually suitable setting for the revelation of the winning design for the proposed Helsinki Guggenheim and a discussion of the process that led to its selection. On July 1, the winners of the competition, Hiroko Kusunoki and Nicolas Moreau, of Moreau Kusunoki Architectes in Paris, took turns describing their scheme as they showed an impressive series of drawings and models. After their presentation, they joined a discussion, moderated by Architectural Record Editor Cathleen McGuigan, with Guggenheim staff members Ari Wiseman and Troy Conrad Therrien. Wiseman, a Deputy Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, has shepherded the competition from the conception stage in 2013. Therrien, the Curator of Architecture and Digital Initiatives, has created the state-of-the-art digital archive that has brought this competition and its entries into the public domain. Although their English was sometimes halting, Kusunoki and Moreau managed to explain the thinking process that brought their scheme into being with a charming combination of confidence and modesty. Then they showed a few other projects they have already managed to build at their young firm. The couple met in Tokyo, where Kusunoki worked for Shigeru Ban after graduating from the Shibaura Institute of Technology there. Moreau, who was educated at l’École Nationale d’Architecture de Belleville in Paris, started out at SANAA, where he worked on the New Museum in New York, then joined Kengo Kuma and Associates. The two paired up to start a Parisian office for Kuma in 2008 and formed their own firm three years later.

 

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From left: Jan Wurm, technical team leader, ARUP; Hiroko Kusunoki, Principal, Moreau Kusunoki Architectes; Nicolas Moreau, Principal, Moreau Kusuonoki Architects; Pekka Pakkanen, Architect, Huttunen Lipasti Pakkanen Architects. Photo: Ritta Supperi

 

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