The world's best architects and designers answer the PMA's call to build A landmark for the future

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The world's best architects and designers answer the PMA's call to build A landmark for the future
The four selected architect-led design teams were chosen by the museum for their creative and sensitive approach, their distinctive vision, and embodiment of the PMA’s values of courage, equity, service, sustainability, and trust.

PORTLAND, ME.- The Portland Museum of Art, together with the leading independent architect selection firm Dovetail Design Strategists, is thrilled to announce the four world-class design teams shortlisted for its Campus Unification + Expansion International Design Competition, which will result in a new landmark building in the heart of downtown Portland, Maine.

The four shortlisted teams (in alphabetical order) are:

• Adjaye Associates with KMA, Michael Boucher Landscape Architecture, Atelier Ten, and 2x4

• LEVER Architecture with Unknown Studio, Chris Newell - Akomawt Educational Initiative, Openbox, Once-Future Office, Atelier Ten, and Studio Pacifica

• MVRDV with STOSS, the Institute for Human Centered Design, Pentagram, Atelier Ten, and DVDL

• Toshiko Mori Architect + Johnston Marklee + Preston Scott Cohen with Hargreaves Jones, Cross Cultural Community Services, WeShouldDoItAll, Buro Happold Consulting Engineers, and Arup

The unique competition, developed and led by Dovetail Design Strategists, attracted submissions from 104 teams representing 20 countries, including Australia, Belgium, China, Denmark, Finland, Japan, Mexico, Spain, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and more. In total, more than 250 firms participated as part of the 104 submitting teams, with 30% of all lead architecture firms founded or owned by people of color, and 16% of lead architecture firms founded or owned by women. DEAI values were a hallmark for the vast majority of teams, championing LGBTQIA2S+, racial, and gender diversity within their Senior Leadership.

“We are deeply moved by the diversity of experience and records of innovation represented in these submissions,” says Mark H.C. Bessire, the Judy and Leonard Lauder Director of the Portland Museum of Art. “Our aspirations as a cultural institution are far greater than simply ‘building a building’, and when we launched the competition, we were curious to see if our colleagues in the architectural world were equally interested in the paradigm shift we were imagining. Turns out, they were.”

Art for All—the PMA’s mission and vision—along with a deep rooted commitment to Sustainability and Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusivity (DEAI), are cornerstones of The PMA Blueprint, the paradigmatic shift and overarching value proposition guiding the museum unification and expansion. Simply put, the PMA’s goals reflect a challenge to museums and cultural institutions to do more to create centers of belonging and foster social change.

These values and commitments are the basis for the distinctive design competition which launched on June 1, 2022. In keeping with the PMA’s mission, Stage I of the competition was an open call that challenged architects around the globe to form and lead a visionary, multi-disciplinary team with accessibility, inclusivity, and sustainability experts, landscape architects, and graphic designers. Teams were required to demonstrate an understanding of the challenge, dedication to the museum’s ideals, relevant work, and to illustrate “In what ways can a museum’s architecture promote equity?”


The four selected architect-led design teams were chosen by the museum for their creative and sensitive approach, their distinctive vision, and embodiment of the PMA’s values of courage, equity, service, sustainability, and trust. Finalists stood out for their collective experience with innovative campus, civic, and cultural projects, and for their deep consideration of the unique qualities of Portland, Maine, and surrounding communities. Throughout the shortlisted teams’ submissions, an understanding of the city and region’s history, rapid recent growth, and shifting demographics was evident.

“It was vital to us as members of the Selection Committee to ensure our unique character as a region was considered in the submissions,” shares PMA Board member Kyo Bannai. “Portland and Maine are international destinations and proudly welcome visitors from around the world, yet this is due to a recognizable, evolving, and renowned cultural landscape that must be elevated and sustained through this new landmark building and competition.”

Ultimately, the Stage II finalists stood out to the museum for their nuanced and emphatic understanding of the PMA’s goals around change, equity, and belonging.

“It’s been exciting to see the global architecture and design community’s enthusiasm and empathy for the PMA’s extraordinary vision that our competition has attracted,” shares Susanna Sirefman, founder and President of Dovetail Design Strategists, whose firm is running the competition on behalf of the PMA. “The selected teams’ submissions demonstrate a deep understanding of the museum’s mission to redefine the role of a museum within society and each shortlisted team has been thoughtfully constructed to reflect the PMA’s commitment to diversity, equity, accessibility, inclusivity, and sustainability. The competition was designed to generate such partnerships and we eagerly anticipate seeing what this stellar shortlist develops in the next stage of the competition.”

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