Guggenheim Helsinki Rejected

John Hill
1. December 2016
Guggenheim Helsinki competition-winning design by Moreau Kusunoki Architectes (Images courtesy of Guggenheim Helsinki)

As reported by the Helsinki Times, Richard Armstrong, director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, said upon the vote: "We are disappointed that the Helsinki City Council has decided not to allocate funds for the proposed Guggenheim Helsinki museum, in effect bringing this project to a close."

The Guggenheim Foundation first proposed a museum in Helsinki in 2011, at which time the city council rejected their plans. Two years later they held a design competition, with the Finnish Association of Architects, for a scaled-down museum on a harbor-front site that has served as a parking lot. Although there was no guarantee that the city would accept the revised proposal, the Guggenheim received an overwhelming 1,715 entries.

In June 2015 they selected a winner: "Art in the City" by Paris's Moreau Kusonoki Architectes. With this scheme the Guggenheim eked out a one-vote approval from the Helsinki City Board on 21 November 2016, which sent the proposal to the city council. 

The lastest proposal's funding strategy, per The Art Newspaper, "would have required Helsinki to pay up to €80m for the building and €15m to the Guggenheim Helsinki Supporting Foundation, as well as underwriting a €35m loan to a management company for the construction." Not surprisingly, this strategy met strong public criticism and was seen as a "'misuse of public funds' at the behest of a private institution."

The Guggenheim Foundation currently maintains three museums – New York, Venice, Bilbao – and is developing a fourth in Abu Dhabi, designed by Frank Gehry. That project was announced in 2006 but has yet to start construction of have a targeted completion date.

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