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Contemporary Architecture and the Corporate Identity

EVA Research Project 2003 – 2004
Peter MacKeith, EVA Research Fellow

Throughout this century, architecture and design have been closely identified with the cultural identity of Finland by extension, Finnish business practices have often sought to cultivate thoughtful design and well-made architecture, as both an indication of economic quality and as a representation of corporate values. Gesellius, Lindgren and Saarinen’s Pohjola Insurance Building, and Helin and Siitonen’s Nokia Headquarters and Research Laboratories are just two evident examples of this interest across the century.

Expanding upon these strong local precedents, and in conjunction with the planning and development of the 2004 EVA conference on “Business and Culture,” this research project will examine and critique the public faces of the corporate world: the architectural designs of multi-national corporate headquarters, research laboratories, and production facilities.

Twelve examples of contemporary corporate architecture will be identified for this study, based on business characteristics – type of product or service, scope of operations, location of facilities, among them – and architectural determinants – selection process of design team, design ambitions, attitudes towards issues of site, materials, sustainability, and workplace design.

Specific questions of corporate intentions and ambitions will be asked, as well as larger ones of cultural relevance issues of transparency of operations both literal and metaphorical, for example, or the application of ecological sensibilities into the very center of corporate activity.

The research will be presented to EVA at six intervals throughout the coming year, and prepared for lecture presentation and book publication in advance of the EVA 2004 conference.