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Zaha Hadid Wins Competition to Develop Design for Proposed Museum in Vilnius

8 April, 2008. Vilnius, Lithuania. A jury of six members today announced that Zaha Hadid, London, has won the architectural competition to develop a design for a proposed museum in Vilnius, Lithuania. The architectural competition is part of a feasibility study undertaken by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and The State Hermitage Museum. The directors of both institutions participated in the jury selection process.

In addition to Zaha Hadid Daniel Libeskind, New York, and Massimiliano Fuksas, Rome, submitted designs for the proposed project.

"The creation of the new center of contemporary and media art in Vilnius would be an important phenomenon in European cultural life,” said Mikhail Piotrovsky, Director of the State Hermitage Museum. “We are honored that The State Hermitage Museum is participating in such a significant undertaking. The project in Vilnius would be an excellent complement to the programme we have recently developed exhibiting contemporary art at the Hermitage".

Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas said, “Lithuania has set its sights on becoming a premier international center of art. We can think of no better institutions - The State Hermitage and the Guggenheim Foundation - to help guide us in this project. Their participation on our jury has led to selecting Zaha Hadid to design the new venue, which we believe will best enable our capital city of Vilnius to achieve this goal.”

An exhibition organized by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, entitled “Imagining the Future: Design Proposals for a New Museum in Vilnius” will open to the public on April 10th at the Jonas Mekas Visual Arts Center in Vilnius and will allow visitors to view the works of all three architects who competed for the project.

To download press images of Zaha Hadid winning design, as well as the designs of Daniel Liebeskind and Massimilliano Fuksas visit Enter user name and password, “press”.

Zaha Hadid

Was born in Baghdad in 1950 and studied architecture at the Architectural Association in London. Following her graduation in 1977, she became a partner in the avant-garde Office for Metropolitan Architecture in London and two years later she opened an independent practice, Zaha Hadid Architects. Through this London-based firm, Hadid’s artistic vision is being transformed into architectural masterpieces worldwide. In 2004, Hadid won the Pritzker Architecture Prize, making her the first (and thus far, the only) woman to have earned this prestigious award. Other significant honors include being named as a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and a Commander of the British Empire. She has held chairs and professorships at institutions such as Harvard University, Yale University, and the Hochschule fur Bildende Kunst Hamburg. Hadid has participated in several research-based competitions, winning awards for urban master plans and building designs in countries as diverse as China, Malaysia, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

The Architectural Competition and Jury

The architectural competition is part of a study to explore the feasibility, from an architectural, economic, and cultural perspective, of establishing a world-class museum in Vilnius. The study includes programming recommendations for the proposed museum and a market study and economic impact analysis. The museum site is located in a large public green space on the banks of the Neris River, centrally located between the old and new centers of the city.

The feasibility study was commissioned by the Jonas Mekas Visual Arts Center, a public establishment founded by the city of Vilnius. The study is being conducted by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and The State Hermitage Museum. An international consulting firm was engaged to conduct the market study and economic impact analysis. An international engineering firm performed the site analysis and provided detailed technical analyses for the three competing designs. It is anticipated that the study will be completed in the summer of 2008.

Thomas Krens, Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Foundation said, “Ever since our first meeting, I have been continually impressed with the determination of the Jonas Mekas Visual Arts Center and city officials to put Vilnius on the world’s cultural map. The extraordinary Fluxus collection of the Mekas Center would provide a strong foundation for a world-class museum focusing on contemporary and new media art. Selecting an internationally renowned architect to design the museum is the first critical step in realizing this ambitious project. The Guggenheim is delighted to lend its guidance and expertise in this process.”

The jury that selected the winning design was comprised of the following members:

Mikhail Piotrovsky – Director of the State Hermitage Museum
Thomas Krens – Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation
Peter Schmal – Director of the Deutsches Architekturmuseum
Gediminas Kirkilas – Prime Minister of the Republic of Lithuania
Juozas Imbrasas – Mayor of the City of Vilnius
Gintaras Caikauskas – Vice-Chairman of the Architects’ Association of Lithuania

Jonas Mekas Visual Arts Center

The City Council of Vilnius, Lithuania established the Jonas Mekas Visual Arts Center (JMVAC) on February 19, 2007. The mission of the JMVAC is to promote the avant-garde along all avenues to diverse audiences. JMVAC’s permanent collection concentrates on two of Lithuania’s most prolific artists: distinguished avant-garde filmmaker Jonas Mekas and George Maciunas, impresario and “Chairman” of the international Fluxus art movement. This collection will form the core of the new museum.

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation

Founded in 1937, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation currently administers a global network of museums and exhibition spaces around the world. These are the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice; the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao; Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin; and the Guggenheim Hermitage Museum, Las Vegas. The Guggenheim Foundation is also building a new museum, designed by Frank Gehry, in Abu Dhabi, scheduled for completion in 2012-2013.

The State Hermitage Museum

With partnering institutions in five countries, the State Hermitage Museum has one of the world’s largest and most encyclopedic art collections numbering more than three million objects. Recently, the Hermitage launched a new initiative Hermitage 20/21 that will bridge the gap between the museum’s historic collection and the expansive field of international and contemporary art.


Zaha Hadid

Mikhail Piotrovsky, Director of the State Hermitage Museum

Zaha Hadid Press Conference


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