The Guggenheim Helsinki Design Competition prompted unprecedented global interest; 1,715 anonymous entries were received, amounting to the largest-ever recorded response for an open architectural competition.
The contest presented a new model for international, open competitions –combining the best of American, Finnish and European procurement approaches, establishing a powerful and memorable brand, and creating a much-admired online gallery of first stage design submissions.
The submissions gallery offered a compelling snapshot of the contemporary preoccupations of designers from 77 countries. An unparalleled resource for those interested in teaching, researching and commissioning architecture, it drew audiences from 169 countries. Overall, the competition website has achieved more than 4.3m page views to date.
In procurement terms, the Guggenheim Helsinki contest was even-handed in its appeal to both emerging and established practices; it honoured Finland’s tradition of anonymous design competitions and ran seamlessly to time and budget.
Above all, the project caught the imagination of architects from diverse cultures. As one competitor expressed it, ‘We wanted to be involved with the Guggenheim simply because we wanted to have an engagement with the world.’
The initiative benefited from the City of Helsinki’s decision to reserve a rare and prominent site at the symbolic gateway to the City from the sea and close to the historic centre.
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation’s aim throughout was to encourage and find new talent, while running an inclusive and transparent process.
In choosing a winner, the independent jury’s criteria were crystalline and demanding: a design which expands the idea of what a museum can be; a design which creates a meaningful public and intellectual presence in Helsinki, offers civic space where both residents and visitors can gather and which supports the experience of art.
The proposed new museum (subject to approval by the Finnish Parliament and City of Helsinki) will organise and present internationally significant exhibitions of artworks from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, as well as Nordic art and architecture.
The winner of the competition was announced in June 2015.