Shane Ferro
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Architects Rebuke Victoria and Albert Dundee for Selecting Impossible Kengo Kuma Design

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Like this museum? Too bad.

Two years ago, Kengo Kuma’s design for the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) at Dundee stole the competition from Steven Holl, Snøhetta, and other shortlisted design heavyweights with its inverted, slatted pyramids stretching out to the Tay River. But as we all know yet tend to forget, great proposals — not great buildings — win competitions, and what you see is not always what you get. After the $45-million budget was brought into more serious consideration, Kuma’s firm was recently forced to redraft the proposal, recanting its “floating” design and firmly anchoring the building back on the shore. While such a reworking may disappoint prospective museum-goers, the architects who lost to Kuma have expressed a more disagreeable reaction: “The V&A Dundee’s actions perpetuate a vicious cycle where architects see that the only way to win competitions is to illegitimately seduce juries,” one unidentified rival told BDOnline. “Once projects are won, their designs are bastardised to meet their obligation,” the agitated commenter continued. “This process begs the question as to whether the best projects actually win and also perpetuates the public perception that architects are buffoons who can’t be trusted.”

A spokesman for Dundee Design responded to the criticism, saying, “we did not have to exclude any of the submissions on the grounds of affordability. We are confident we will deliver a building very much in keeping with Kengo Kuma’s original proposal.”

- Kelly Chan

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