Nordicum - Real Estate Annual Finland 2014 - Page 10

Armstrong says that he is in awe of the intellectual and creative capital inherent in the pocket-sized metropolis and is especially glad that the “innovation university” Aalto is off to a great start. Named after the Finnish architect-designer icon Alvar Aalto, the new-comer has caused quite a buzz internationally as well. “The Aalto University is a great model for all the world in the arena of higher education,” Armstrong describes the entity combining design, business end engineering prowess. He believes that Aalto has managed to cut through so much red tape in order to establish a real blueprint for creativity. “It is a fantastic experiment that is constantly looking forward.” Armstrong sees Guggenheim as a natural continuation of this branching-out process. He says that it is no longer news to anyone that Helsinki is among the world leaders when it comes to cutting-edge innovation and thinking way out of the box, but there is still so much more Helsinki could accomplish: “Helsinki has given the world such dominant visions in the fields of architecture and design and the impact of all that has been huge. Now it is possible to take another step,” he argues, calling Helsinki extremely well-positioned to take full advantage of the emerging opportunities. Get Competitive And while trying its very best to win the Helsinki decision-makers over, Guggenheim threw in a carrot that proved to be impossible to resist: a world-class architectural contest. That carrot was made especially tempting as starchitect Frank Gehry expressed an interest in participating in the contest – even though the maestro has shown an aversion for open contests as such. The man who created perhaps the most brilliant Guggenheim building – the titanium-covered Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao – is obviously held in high regard by the organisation. Armstrong has a long-standing relationship with the 84-year-old architect and confirms that Gehry has a special place for Finland in his heart. “Part of that probably has to do with him growing up in Toronto, with a lot of Finnish immigrants in the neighbourhood,” Armstrong believes. Gehry himself has said that he saw Alvar Aalto give a lecture while still in high school and that was a life-altering experience for him. “The Finnish Connection” has only strengthened along the years, as Gehry has become great friends with composer Esa-Pekka Salonen. May the Best Man Win But how does the prospect of having the legendary architect attend the Guggenheim 8 Nordicum Photos: Helsinki City Planning Departmtent Brain Power