Guggenheim and Google Announce Winners of Global Design Competition


Juried Prize and People’s Prize Awarded to Top Two Virtual Structures of Design It: Shelter Competition in Denmark and Portugal

Download a PDF of this press release.

(New York, NY – October 21, 2009) – Today, on the 50th Anniversary of the Frank Lloyd Wright–designed Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Guggenheim and Google announced the two winners of the Design It: Shelter Competition. This interactive, online competition asked participants to utilize Google SketchUp and Google Earth to create and submit designs for virtual 3-D shelters for a location of their choice anywhere on Earth. The Juried Prize, selected by a jury of architecture and design experts, was awarded to David Eltang of Aarhus, Denmark for his SeaShelter structure. The People’s Prize, determined by public voting among ten preselected finalists, was awarded to David Mares of Setúbal, Portugal for his CBS – Cork Block Shelter, which was the recipient of 64,875 votes of the more than 100,000 total votes submitted online by voters across the world. Prizes include airfare and two nights accommodation for two in New York City, behind-the-scenes tours of the Guggenheim Museum and Google offices, and Google SketchUp Pro licenses. The Juried Prize also includes a $1,000 cash award.

Design It: Shelter Competition received submissions from people in 68 countries, for a total of nearly 600 entries that met competition requirements. Ten finalists were preselected by students from the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture for the People’s Prize, and votes were accepted through October 10. The jury who determined the Juried Prize from among all of the shelter entries consisted of Timothy Bade, Principal, Bade Stageberg Cox; Neil M. Denari, Principal, Neil M. Denari Architects; Cathleen McGuigan, Architecture Critic, Newsweek; Victor Sidy, Dean of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture; Lisa Strausfeld, Partner, Pentagram; Aidan Chopra, Product Evangelist, Google SketchUp; and David van der Leer, Assistant Curator of Architecture and Design at the Guggenheim.

Each competition entry consisted of a 100-square-foot structure in which to live and work, a shelter title, its geolocation in Google Earth, and a brief description of the shelter and its relationship to the natural and built environment, along with the designer’s name and place of origin. All of the final entries and top ten finalists, along with a video announcing the winners, may be viewed at

SeaShelter, winner of the Juried Prize, is situated on the coastline of Denmark’s Wadden Sea, a popular location for wet hikes during low tide. Its interior workspace and observation and resting platform offer an opportunity for those hiking along the sand to experience the seabed during shifting tides, and the shelter provides a habitat for local birds and seals. According to juror David van der Leer, Assistant Curator of Architecture and Design at the Guggenheim, “SeaShelter creates an opportunity to experience full high tide and interact with the environment in dramatic ways. Providing a refuge for passersby and wildlife alike, the shelter invites narrative and possesses a welcoming quality that the jury views as reflective of the spirit of the Design It competition.”

People’s Prize winner CBS – Cork Block Shelter is located in Vale de Barris, Portugal. The winning entry is a rectangular structure whose cork walls which provide thermal protection in a microclimate that ranges from dry heat to damp cold. According to the project description posted by designer David Mares, “the dynamic facade gives visual interaction when in living-studying mode; in rest-sleep mode it closes to provide privacy for its occupant.”

Design It: Shelter Competition was part of the educational programming offered in conjunction with Learning By Doing, an exhibition on view this summer at the Guggenheim Museum presented in tandem with the Frank Lloyd Wright retrospective Frank Lloyd Wright: From Within Outward. The exhibition featured plans, photographs, and models of shelters built by students at Taliesin and Taliesin West, the Frank Lloyd Wright Schools of Architecture in Wisconsin and Arizona, over the past seven decades. The competition provided the opportunity for anyone in the world to create their own virtual shelter with Google Earth and Google’s 3-D modeling software SketchUp, while adhering to similar design parameters as Wright’s Taliesin architecture students. Frank Lloyd Wright will be on view at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao from October 22, 2009–February 14, 2009.

New Programming on Guggenheim’s Web Site, completely redesigned and relaunched in November 2008, received the 2009 Webby Award for Best Cultural Institution Web Site of the year. Along with Design It: Shelter Competition, new features include videos of exhibitions, expanded access to museum archives, a photo gallery of select events, and the launch of Guggenheim Forum, a series of moderated online discussions among experts from a variety of fields that occurs in conjunction with major museum exhibitions.

The Fiftieth Anniversary of the Guggenheim Museum

Design It: Shelter Competition comprises part of a year-long celebration of art, architecture, and innovation. Planned throughout the year are major exhibitions and programming, including a new annual arts awards, a live contemporary music series, a documentary film on the Guggenheim past and present, and a free day on October 21, the date on which the museum opened its doors exactly 50 years ago. The anniversary festivities extend across New York City with public events including a light tribute on the Empire State Building on October 21st and an ongoing presence on digital billboards in Times Square. Beyond New York, the Guggenheim partners in Abu Dhabi, Berlin, Bilbao, and Venice continue an international celebration with programs in honor of the museum’s golden year. Complete and up-to-date information on all of the Guggenheim Museum’s 50th Anniversary programs and activities is available at

October 21, 2009

For additional information, contact:

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Lauren Van Natten, Senior Publicist
212 423 3840 or

Nora Semel, External Affairs Manager
212 423 3881 or

Aaron Stein, Global Communications & Public Affairs
650 214 2022 or

For publicity images, visit
User ID: photoservice
Password: presspass

contact us

Have a media inquiry? Contact us for more information.

Press images

Press Images

Download high resolution, press-approved images.