Paris-based Moreau Kusunoki Architectes have won the Guggenheim Helsinki Design Competition, capping an unprecedented open competition that drew 1,715 entries from around the world. "Art in the City," husband-and-wife team Nicolas Moreau and Hiroko Kusunoki's proposal for a series of flexible pavilions and a lighthouse-like tower clad in charred timber and glass, was celebrated by the 11-member jury for the way it fit in with the site on Helsinki's South Harbor and offered a vision of a more responsive institution. The winners will receive €100,000 (roughly $109,000) and will be appearing in New York on July 1 at a free public event at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.
The announcement of the winning design caps a controversial contest, at least for Helsinki residents, many of whom have balked at the price tag of the cultural institution, estimated to be $147 million. Initially, the city board, unhappy with the potential cost, voted against the museum when they were told they'd need to pay a $30 million licensing fee; the Guggenheim has since promised to help raise private funds to pay the fee (at the press conference, Ari Lahti, chairman of the Guggenheim Helsinki Supporting Foundation, said they're a third of their way to the goal). The board has agreed to revisit the proposal now that a winner has been chosen. According to a New York Times report, on politician has already criticized the tower for being "arrogant" and not fitting in with surrounding buildings.
The other five finalists, Asif Khan, AGPS Architecture, Fake Industries Architectural Agonism, Hans Cook Zemmrich STUDIO2050 and SMAR Architecture, will all receive awards of €55,000 (roughly $60,000).