Register: AUG/30/2018, Submit: AUG/31/2018, Eligibility: Everyone, architects, students, engineers; individually, teams up to 3 members, Fee: 60 EUR (MAY/01 – JUL/31/2018), 80 EUR (AUG/01 – AUG/30/2018); student discounts if a minimum of 5 teams register from one architecture school or university, Awards: 1st Prize 1,500 EUR, 2nd Prize 1,000 EUR, 3rd Prize 500 EUR, 10 ‘Editors Choices’
It’s simple and clear: Switch/Replace the Guggenheim Museum in New York with your interpretation of the museum. What? Why? How? Yes. You heard that right. The competition offers a chance to re-create the iconic museum in NYC by the legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright at the same exact site but with an entirely new perspective by the participants. The aim of this competition is to re-design the museum created by the master himself, with a similar intent to break from the prevalent conventionality in designing a museum and gallery space and create an innovative and extraordinary built form. The in-situ replacement of the existing museum should be iconic and revolutionary, capable of transforming the urban form of NYC in a similar or a more powerful way. The response should be FLW-like, where he constantly strived to devise new architecture systems that were ahead of his time and were hailed as wonders of the modernist movement.
Often termed as America’s greatest architect, Frank Lloyd Wright was already a stalwart when he was commissioned to design a museum for Solomon R. Guggenheim’s Non-Objective Painting collection. The desire of the client was to create a natural and organic relationship between artworks and architecture “…each of these great masterpieces should be organized into space” since “(these paintings) are order, creating order and are “sensitive” (and correcting even) to space”, Hilla Rebay wrote in her commission letter to Wright.
The biggest challenge that FLW faced was to devise a new ‘organic’ approach to museum architecture and exhibition design. FLW never approved of a rigid gridiron city like New York, which was ‘overbuilt and overpopulated’ according to him and lacked a close relationship with nature. He somehow managed to find a suitable patch of land overlooking the Central Park that could fulfill his desire to create a natural and an organic masterpiece surrounded on three sides by tall boxes. Wright conceptualized the building as a continuous circular ramp that gradually descended downwards. The uninterrupted exhibition path encircled a large central void that had a large domed skylight allowing diffused light into the museum space.
The exhibition space conceived by Wright was revolutionary: a whole, enveloping volume where visitors at first reach the top level by an elevator, then gently descend on a ramp while admiring the paintings arranged along the way. Every 30 degrees, a narrow load-bearing wall gives a precise cadence to the path. The space is unified, there are no traditional exhibition halls or secluded treasure rooms, almost all parts of the museum can be perceived from every point inside it and the visitors always know where they are and where they are going. From the central lobby (the “Rotunda”) several exhibition levels can be seen simultaneously.
The design has a lot of practical drawbacks: with almost no horizontal floors and no planar walls for display and reduced ceiling heights. The artists felt that the art was overpowered by the sculptural strength of the envelope. But nevertheless, there is no experience more rewarding than visiting an FLW building. Wright’s building made it socially and culturally acceptable for an architect to design a highly expressive, intensely personal museum. In this sense, almost every museum of our time is a child of the Guggenheim.
Guggenheim museum is a symbol of free architectural expression and moving away from convention. FLW thought of the gallery space as a continuous loop and the envelope as a free-flowing organic form. He wanted to create a contrasting sculpture in ‘red’ color among the monochromatic hues of Manhattan skyline. He wanted to break away from the rigidity and the basic functional planning of a museum space. And with all this, he still wanted to create a building that would complement and respect its context. The proposal for ‘Guggenheim Museum’ should strive to create an innovative concept for a museum/gallery that would re-define the spatiality of the structure. The proposal must reflect specially on the movement and circulation patterns within the envelope that will invigorate and enhance the ‘art’ that is being exhibited. The proposal must have a poetic value to its imagination of a gallery space where a viewer comes for an all-in-all experience.
FLW was an ‘honest’ architect who would design the building as one coherent unit. He designed his museum built-form in its true spirit and puritanical style. The exterior of the built form was reflected in the inside and vice versa. The participants should debate upon the ‘masking’ techniques of today’s architectural styles and try to create their own vision for ‘the true spirit’ of architecture in its physical manifestation. The new proposal for Guggenheim must take into account the prospect of naturally light-built environments as was considered by FLW during his time. He created a large central skylight and ribbon slits along the path to illuminate his galleries. The proposal shall give due importance to lighting systems for the art to reveal its dynamic aspect.
FLW created a visual contrast with his Guggenheim design w.r.t. the form, materiality, weight and color. Buildings may/may not need such stark changes to stand out. The participants must debate this point and envisage a proposal that would have a lasting impression on a viewer’s mind whether or not it merges/stands out in the NYC context. The proposal must be a sociological focal point and a place of significant relevance for the people of the city where they could gather and discuss the subject of art. The proposal may/may not adhere to FLW’s vision of a museum space but should be an ‘architectural icon’ with a universal appeal. It may go back to the past or be a futuristic marvel, but it should be architecturally relevant and respect the architectural value of its precedent and the surrounding context.
SITE AND PROGRAM
The site for the new intervention will be exactly the same as identified by Frank Lloyd Wright, located at 1071 Fifth Avenue on the corner of East 89th Street in the Upper East Side neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City.
Guggenheim museum serves primarily as an exhibition space for various forms of art. FLW envisioned the envelope as a ‘loop’ that would be translated into a continuous ramp-gallery leading to the top. The participants are free to create their own vision for the envelope that will primarily have the same programmatic functions inside. The size, proportions and number of facilities are left to the participant’s discretion and imagination. Competitors are encouraged to design and propose any kind of innovative and intuitive program or function, but with an argumentized necessity. Keeping in mind the paucity of space in today’s times, explore the possibility of designing multifunctional and dynamic spaces.
Here is a list of some exemplary spaces that the participants can follow:
- Museum: Exhibition halls and galleries, Demonstration kiosks, Archives section, Information Center etc.
- Workspaces: Offices, Media room, Seminar rooms, Digital library etc.
- Miscellaneous: Reception space, Administrative offices, Theater, Retail and souvenir shops, Reference library, Restrooms etc.
- Maximum Built area: 10,000 sq. meters
- There are no height restrictions for the new intervention.
- The intervention can go underground up to 6 meters deep.
- Participants need not provide any parking space within the site.
All these are exemplary areas for participants’ clarity. The programming should be done under these broad categories, but they are free to adhere, ignore, add or subtract to any one of the specific functions with a valid argument based on their theme and design.