Guggenheim Helsinki

Lead DesignerMartin Summers
Project LinkView
Prize(s)1st Place in Architecture Categories / Urban Design
Entry Description

Our proposal strategically intensifies and reimagines the Guggenheim Museum producing an iconic cultural landmark by sculpting natural light through physical and conceptual layers. These strata develop a rich, dynamic and varied experience synergistically contextualizing the museum at multiple scales to the material and cultural fabric of Helsinki and Finland. The design supplants the object/icon building (visually distinct, discrete parts) with a new subtle icon, embedded in Finnish culture (emotional, connected) and redefines Helsinki as an urbanized landscape; an extension of the museum.

We strategically integrate the building into its context by articulating the unique qualities of the adjacent context. The building massing defines and simultaneously blurs the edges where city, park, wharf and water meet, redefining civic space between Helsinki’s port and historic core. At a regional scale the design links the museum to Helsinki’s “green fingers” by blending the new park with Tähtitornin vuori park to the west and imagines the roof as part of this extended archipelago. At a national scale the project evokes a Finnish ethos, manifesting the nations emotional connection to the natural landscape bathed in a sublime light.

Internally the museum is efficiently organized around a central core where a majority of the program is organized around the buildings main atrium. Here guests find Visitors Services and are oriented by vistas through adjacent programs and back to the port. The main atrium is accessed via multiple entrances that weave together city and museum to takes one on a journey through layers of landscape, shaping and shaped by light. The new park functionally houses a majority of the galleries that are accessed via a series of smaller atria. These atria erode landscape, blurring the interior and exterior spaces and programs and ones perception art. Our proposal articulates a new model for sustainable, integrated urban development.


Mr. Summers founded PLUS-SUM Studio in September 2012, to pursue projects aligned with his own vision of collaborative practice. He has 19 years experience in a variety of project types and scales, from small interior renovations to large-scale master planning. His first project for PLUS-SUM Studio was recognized the following year (2013) by the National AIA and displayed in Washington, D.C. as part of the Emerging Professionals Exhibition. In November 2014, the competition entry for the Louisville Children’s Museum "Grey Matter" was exhibited in the Korea Institute for Youth Facility and Environment (KIYFE) exhibit in Munjeong Samsung Raemian Gallery in Seoul, Korea.

PLUS-SUM uses an intensive, iterative, problem seeking design process to discover opportunities latent within a given problem and to evolve multiple, possible solutions. This process seamlessly moves from design practice to an academic context to test opportunities within each realm and progress both forward. Mr. Summers is an Assistant Professor of Architecture at the University of Kentucky College of Design; where he leads advanced studios focused on urban design, iterative digital processes, and teaches electives in High Performance Building Envelopes and Design/Theory. He is committed to education and to pursuing conditions that allow for an open and engaging dialogue around contemporary practice and processes.

Previously Mr. Summers spent 10 years at Morphosis Architects in Santa Monica, where he served as project designer on projects across all scales and rose to lead the office’s façade design and construction.
Prior to working at Morphosis, Mr. Summers participated in a diverse range of projects from residential and worship spaces to sound stages for clients such as Warner Bros., Sony, and DreamWorks SKG. He received his Masters of Architecture degree from UCLA, and his Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Kentucky College of Architecture, now the College of Design.