The 1,715 entries to the international design competition for a Guggenheim museum in Helsinki have been winnowed down to six, an entirely predictable six. I must admit I have not finished my cruise through the original entries. I have informed readers that an entry of traditional style was submitted. It is not among the finalists. Whether there were any other traditional entries seems likely just by dint of the law of averages.
But probably not. Anyway, the six finalists are what you would expect, no two of them seeming to hark from the same mind, or planet. Kriston Capps of Atlantic CityLab, in “Here Are the Top 6 Designs for the Guggenheim Helsinki, and They’re All a Bad Idea,” cites the arithmetic of Taller de Casqueria, a Spanish architectural cooperative, which figured that if the judges spent a paltry five minutes per entry, the deliberations would have taken 142 hours. That’s a lot of time for a panel of judges to spend together. Capps adds that the architects spent an average of $12,000 per entry, which means the Guggenheim Foundation snookered them into doing $23 million of work for free.
But Capps surprised me, and sent me to seventh heaven, by describing the gridded gallery into which the 1,715 entries were arrayed, then asserting that “the sum of the contest didn’t celebrate the diversity of design. It made a mockery of architecture.” That must be the understatement of the week! He quotes a Finnish organization that’s running a counter-competition, The Next Helsinki: “However different in detail, the starting point for the competition is the creation of a landmark building with little or no connection to the local context and the urban fabric as a whole.” The illustration on top of this post bears that out.
Capps had other astute criticisms of the contest and its results. The piece deserves to be read in its entirety. Of course, that means indulging in a bit of masochism, for the piece features illustrations of all six finalists.