Endgame: An Open Letter to the Guggenheim Helsinki Finalists

1,715 Entries and One Winner. (Courtesy Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

1,715 Entries and One Winner. (Courtesy Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

The following is an abridged version of an open letter by Chicago architect and urban planner Marshall Brown, which was originally presented at the The Design Competition Conference by the GSD and the Van Alen Institute. It follows a previous comment by the author for AN about the state of design competitions in the 21st century. It is in direct response to the Guggenheim Helsinki Competition, which attracted 1,715 submissions before the winner was announced yesterday

My Dear Colleagues,

I would like to extend sincere congratulations for your recent achievements and the recognition it has brought to your practices. I suppose you may be wondering about the cause for this letter since, at least that I can recall, we have never formally met. One year ago I wrote an essay for AN that criticized the current state of architectural competitions. It concluded with the melodramatic, yet also sincere invitation for likeminded architects to join me in “early, complete, and permanent retirement” from such contests. In the meantime I have mostly managed to follow through on my retreat from the design competition industry, despite several invitations from colleagues to collaborate.

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This alternative Guggenheim Helsinki competition is challenging global luxury museum brands

Architecture, International
Monday, June 15, 2015
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#189 Helsinki Iňač Tomáš Boroš. Consultant: doc. Ing. Arch. Juraj Koban. (Next Helsinki)

#189 Helsinki Iňač
Tomáš Boroš. Consultant: doc. Ing. Arch. Juraj Koban. (Next Helsinki)

Competition or PR stunt? That’s up to you to decide, but there is no debate that the Guggenheim Helsinki Design Competition has provoked some interesting conversations around issues of the cultural institution in the globalized 21st century.

Continue reading after the jump.

Video> Frank Gehry on his eccentric Guggenheim Abu Dhabi museum

Gehry and his Guggenheim model. (Screengrab via NYTimes)

Gehry and his Guggenheim Abu Dhabi model. (Screengrab via the New York Times)

Up-and-coming architect Frank Gehry recently sat down with the New York Times to discuss his  Guggenheim museum under construction on Saadiyat Island near Abu Dhabi. The eccentric or idiosyncratic or whimsical structure totals 450,000 square feet, making it 12 times larger than the Guggenheim in New York. The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi  is defined by multiple cones that Gehry says were influenced by teepees because of how they remove hot air. The design is also supposed to evoke the domes of mosques around the Middle East. Although that’s a bit harder to discern.

Watch the video interview after the jump.

One of these six firms will design the new Guggenheim Helsinki

Plan 76091181. (Courtesy Malcolm Reading Consultants)

Plan 76091181. (Courtesy Malcolm Reading Consultants)

Over 1,700 proposals were submitted in the Guggenheim Foundation’s open-call competition to design a new museum in Helsinki—and now, just six teams remain. In a statement, the competition’s 11-member jury said it shortlisted these schemes because they would each “expand the idea of what a museum can be.”

Continue reading after the jump.

Slideshow> Proposals unveiled for Guggenheim’s planned Helsinki campus

One of the submissions for the the Guggenheim's Helsinki campus. (Courtesy Malcolm Reading Consultants / The Guggenheim Foundation)

One of the submissions for the the Guggenheim’s Helsinki campus. (Courtesy Malcolm Reading Consultants / The Guggenheim Foundation)

As AN recently reported, the Guggenheim Foundation has unveiled more than 1700 proposals for its planned campus in Helsinki. All of these submissions have been kept anonymous and made available to the public through an online gallery which displays two renderings and a brief description for each plan. Given the amount of proposals the Guggenheim received, the gallery can be a little—let’s say—hard on the eyes. If you’re not up for scrolling through all of it, we picked out some interesting renderings that stood out to us. Yes, we undoubtedly missed some good ones in the process—there are 1,700 after all.

View the slideshow after the jump.

Eavesdrop> Take a secret peek inside the secret Guggenheim’s Helsinki competition room

Eavesdroplet, International
Monday, October 13, 2014
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guggenheim-helsinki-competition-room

The secret Guggenheim Helsinki competition room. (Courtesy Tipster)

As we’ve mentioned before, the biggest competition in town is not in the United States. Virtually every design firm in California and everywhere else has entered the competition for the Guggenheim Helsinki. Proposals were due on September 10, and Eavesdrop received a secret picture of the storeroom where they are being kept. Let’s just say it is FULL. There appears to be several hundred submissions. Only six of the proposals will advance to stage two of the competition, a list that will be announced later this fall. The winning entry will eventually be chosen next June. So stay tuned, there’s plenty of Guggenheim madness left! (And why doesn’t the Guggenheim open a branch in Los Angeles already?!)

Guggenheim to Launch Competition for Helsinki Site

Development, International
Thursday, April 3, 2014
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The site of the planned Guggenheim in Helsinki. (Courtesy The Guggenheim)

The site of the planned Guggenheim in Helsinki. (Ari Wiseman / Courtesy The Guggenheim)

The Guggenheim will launch a competition in early June to design their new branch in Helsinki. Working alongside the Finnish Association of Architects, the Foundation is seeking proposals for a currently vacant site alongside the city’s South Harbor. The competition comes three years after the city expressed interest in a Guggenheim outpost. But, according to the Art Newspaper, despite the competition, a new branch is not certain. The paper reported, “The Guggenheim announced that a decision to go ahead with the project would be taken after the architectural competition is completed.” The competition comes as the Guggenheim faces heated backlash for their planned museum in Abu Dhabi, which has a dismal record on workers’ rights.

Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid the Subject of Controversy for Middle East Projects

East, International
Thursday, March 6, 2014
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Protesters inside the Guggenheim. (Courtesy Gulf Ultra Luxury Faction)

Protesters inside the Guggenheim. (Courtesy Gulf Ultra Luxury Faction)

Nearly 50 activists recently took over the Guggenheim’s spiraling balconies to protest the museum’s planned branch in Abu Dhabi. The protesters, who are affiliated with Gulf Labor and Occupy Museums, dropped pamphlets, rolled out banners, and hung a manifesto to criticize Abu Dhabi’s poor record on workers’ rights.

Continue reading after the jump.

James Turrell Exhibit Opens Friday at the Guggenheim

East
Thursday, June 20, 2013
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Aten Reign, James Turrell's largest museum installation ever, fills the rotunda of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. (David Held/Courtesy Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Aten Reign, James Turrell’s largest museum installation ever, fills the rotunda of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. (David Held/Courtesy Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Tomorrow, June 21, is the summer solstice. On the occasion, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum will open the doors on a major solo show of the work of James Turrell, called simply James Turrell. It’s a fitting day to open an exhibition on the American artist. Since the 1960s, Turrell has developed a diverse body of work that uses light as material and medium. The centerpiece of the show is Aten Reign, a site-specific installation that fills Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous rotunda. Made from a series of interlocking fabric cones that relate to the Guggenheim’s interior ramps, Aten Reign interlaces the prevailing daylight with subtly changing color fields produced by concealed LED fixtures. Viewed from below, on reclining benches or lying flat on the floor, with the gentle bubbling of the Guggenheim’s fountain providing aural accompaniment, the installation provides a meditative, perception altering experience.

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On View> Gutai: Splendid Playground at the Guggenheim Museum

East
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
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(Courtesy Guggenheim)

(Courtesy Guggenheim)

Gutai: Splendid Playground
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
1071 Fifth Avenue
New York, New York
Through May 8

“Don’t imitate others!” and “Engage in the newness!” are just two of the signature slogans of the Gutai Art Association, founded in July 1954 by Jiro Yoshihara. The Gutai—which translates to “concreteness”—artists dared to breakthrough the boundaries presented by traditional Japanese art. As their name suggests, the artists directly engaged with concrete materials (such as remote-control toys, sand, light bulbs, and paper screens) to create a new, never before seen, kind of art. The creative genius of these avant-garde artists manifested itself in the form of various mediums including, but not limited to, painting, installation and performance art, experimental film, and environmental art. Gutai: Splendid Playground explores the works of these artists, created over a span of two-decades, and features an enormous installation by Motonaga Sadamasa composed of a series of plastic tubes filled with colored water. The structure, created specifically for the Guggenheim’s rotunda, invites visitors to look up and use these “brush strokes” to create their own individual composition.

Guggenheim Announces Expansion of Frank Lloyd Wright Museum

East
Monday, April 1, 2013
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Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum's Proposed extension (courtesy oiio architecture office)

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum’s Proposed extension. (courtesy oiio architecture office)

“What if we decided we needed a little more Guggenheim?” asked New York- and Athens-based group Oiio Architecture Office. In a shocking announcement on its Facebook page, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum today disclosed that it will be expanding—vertically: “We are pleased to announce that beginning today, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum will begin construction to expand the original Frank Lloyd Wright design by an additional 13 floors.” The museum has always faced spatial limitations,and as the Whitney has taken to expanding over the High Line, renderings for Oiio Architecture Office show the Guggenheim rising vertically from its Fifth Avenue site, continuing the building’s signature spiral form. While this expansion is sure to garner criticism from preservationists, as the buildings is currently listed with both the National Register of Historic Places and the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, representatives from the museum have stated that the proposed addition will respond respectfully Wright’s original design.

Van on Van: Guggenheim Curator to Lead Van Alen Institute

East, Newsletter, Shft+Alt+Del
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
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David van der Leer. (David Heald / Courtesy BMW Guggenheim Lab)

David van der Leer. (David Heald / Courtesy BMW Guggenheim Lab)

David van der Leer, an associate curator of architecture and urban studies at the Guggenheim, has been appointed executive director of New York’s Van Alen Institute. He will take over in May. The Institute, which has existed for more than 100 years in various forms, is dedicated to improving the public realm through exhibitions, competitions, and programming initiatives in New York and beyond. Reached by email, van der Leer declined to elaborate on his plans for the Institute.

Continue reading after the jump.

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