The plastering and plasterwork on the façade were renewed. The faded building was repainted in blue and the wings in light pink. The building was fitted with new systems that met modern standards.
The greatest functional changes were made in the lobby. The cloakroom was moved to the back of the area, and Eino Ruutsalo’s kinetic Light Wall was relocated to border the area. New lift doors opened up both sides of the lobby, and the room was cleared in the middle for an information desk to serve customers.
Aki Davidsson: Renovation of Helsinki City Hall. In The Lionheart of the City 1998.
Another major change was to punch out a new door to the side street of Sofiankatu in autumn 2009. Jorma Puranen’s photographic collection Where Compasses All Go Mad was placed inside the adjacent stairway. Eino Ruutsalo’s Light Wall (1971) was turned 180 degrees towards the coat racks by the back wall. This created a large and impressive space for exhibitions in the middle of the lobby.
Exhibitions that presented Helsinki from different viewpoints were organised often in the Virka gallery. Thanks to its size and simple style, Virka gallery was well suited to photographic exhibitions, and numerous famous photographers showed their work there. Many concerts and other events were held in the lobby space and Banquet Hall. The number of visitors grew from year to year, as tourists discovered the City Hall and its services.
The heads of state of Nordic countries celebrated Finland’s 100-year centennial in City Hall’s Banquet Hall in the summer of 2017 by having lunch with the newly sworn-in Mayor of Helsinki, Jan Vapaavuori. The festive year was crowned by a visit to the Bridge exposition by Kersti Kaljulaid, the President of Estonia. The Bridge exhibition celebrated the concurrent centennial anniversaries of the neighbouring countries.
In the last decade, the City Hall has been visited by, for example, the Nordic heads of state and the Presidents of the Baltic countries. There have also been guests from several other European countries, as well as from Asia, Africa and Australia. The latest guest was President of the Republic of Korea Moon Jae-in in 2019, for whom a traditional lunch hosted by the Mayor was held in the City Hall’s beautiful Banquet Room.
The lobby’s function was once again reinvented in autumn 2018, bringing an end to information services and exhibition operations in the space. In spring 2019, an event square was unveiled in the middle of the lobby for hosting events and occasions. A media wall was put up in place of Eino Ruutsalo’s Light Wall. A long-awaited door connecting the lobby to the City Hall’s restaurant was also finally added.