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McCormick Gallery Information

320 Newbury Street
Boston, MA 02115

8 am–10:30 pm
8 am–8 pm

All exhibitions are free and open to the public


Annual Rings: A New Generation Of Wood Architecture In Finland

Exhibition in McCormick Gallery

November 16, 2015–February 1, 2016

Pine, spruce, larch. These tree species cover the majority of Finland. This abundance of wood formed a material and spatial culture that connects to the sky perceived through upright trees. Against this bounty, Finnish architecture expressively incorporates itself as a zone between often-frozen ground and sky.

Finland prides itself on its long-established woodworking traditions and widespread appreciation for quality craftsmanship and design. The past twenty years have seen particularly remarkable development in Finnish wood construction. Since 1994, the government and the wood building industry have invested strongly in research, development, and education related to wood architecture and construction. The Finnish Wood Award, inaugurated in 1994, has now been awarded 16 times, and educational programs devoted to wood architecture now receive widespread recognition. Wood architecture in Finland again has become vital and recognized throughout the world.

This exhibit co-produced by the Museum of Finnish Architecture and the Aalto University Wood Program told the story of Finnish wood architecture over the past two decades through 14 projects: churches and chapels, cultural buildings, pavilions, a research center, and the country's first wooden multi-story apartment building, completed last year. Some of the structures are temporary, but most buildings still stand. The selection presented the trends in contemporary wood architecture, the material-specific architectural qualities present in wood buildings, and the boundless opportunities offered by wood. In these projects, traditional methods are combined with wholly new construction techniques.

The renewed interest in exploring the potential of wood as a building material for contemporary architecture during the past 20 years has evolved through three identifiable phases: The period from 1994 to about 2004 was a period of new appreciation of wood as both a material for cladding as well as a structural element in buildings. The years from about 2004 to 2010 presented a moment of a new interest in wood as a material for artistic expression in architecture. The recent years have witnessed an interest in experimenting with the new techniques in working with wood as a building material. The projects on view were selected not only for their architectural quality, but also for the experimental nature of their execution. The buildings, many of them results of public competitions, also speak to the important role that wood plays in Finnish art and culture.

Curators of the exhibition were Pekka Heikkinen, professor in wood architecture at Aalto University; Architect Philip Tidwell, and Juulia Kauste, director of the Museum of Finnish Architecture.
 It was first presented at the Museum of Finnish Architecture in Helsinki in winter 2014-2015 and then at the Fay Jones School of Architecture at the University of Arkansas before continuing its tour to the Embassy of Finland in Washington, DC. The touring exhibition is supported by Alfred Kordelin Foundation, Aalto University, Lakea, Metsä Wood, Puuinfo, and Suomen Tuulileijona.

This exhibit was hosted by The Boston Architectural College with support from the Consulate General of Finland in New York.