Describing their design as anti-iconic, husband-and-wife team Nicolas Moreau and Hiroko Kusunoki presented their winning proposal for the Guggenheim Helsinki competition during a presentation and panel discussion at the organization's New York flagship yesterday. After leading the audience through sketches of the plan, a series of charred timber-clad pavilions and tower called "Art in the City," the duo engaged in a panel discussion with Guggenheim curator for architecture and digital initiatives Troy Conrad Therrien and Guggenheim deputy director Ari Wiseman, led by Architectural Record editor-in-chief Cathleen McGuigan. During the talk, Moreau and Kusunoki spoke of creating a design that reflected Finnish culture and ideas of openness, one that sought to "re-introduce the landscape." They also addressed some of the issues being raised by critics of the design, namely the height of the lighthouse-like tower, which some feel blocks the Helsinki landscape.
Kusunoki noted that during the site visit redesign phase in January, they adjusted the design as initially submitted, lowering the tower 10 meters and moving it from the north to south end of the structure.
During the Q-and-A session after the presentation, the audience asked about the selection process, among other issues (Moreau politely rejected the idea of including a sauna). The story of Jørn Utzon's selection as the architect of the Sydney Opera house—Eero Saarinen famously picked the design among the numerous entries, telling the rest of the jury that we have our architect—was brought up in reference to the herculean task of judging 1,715 entires. According to Therrien and Wiseman, the judges saw every entry; they worked in pairs, sifting through a certain group of entires, with other pairs overlapping to make sure that there were multiple passes on each entry.
The discussion of the winning design comes as the fate of the site and museum are being debated. A report published yesterday by Architect's Journal suggests the Guggenheim Foundation may face an uphill climb to get the museum built. The Helsinki Times contacted city councilors and found that 31 of the 85 are against the plan as it stands, which would require significant investment by the city, and only 6 would go on record supporting the scheme. Osku Pajamaki, vice chair of Helsinki's executive board, called the lighthouse "arrogant," comparing its placement in relation to the city's historic center is the equivalent of putting a museum "next to Notre Dame in Paris."
∙ From 1,715 to 1: Moreau Kusunoki Architectes Wins Guggenheim Helsinki Design Competition [Curbed]
∙ Next Helsinki Adds Even More Plans to Guggenheim Site Debate [Curbed]
∙ First Look at Final 6 Designs for Guggenheim Helsinki [Curbed]
∙ The 36 Weirdest Proposals for the Guggenheim Helsinki [Curbed]