Aarno Ruusuvuori (1925 – 1992)
The expansive renovation project began in 1965, after Ruusuvuori won an open competition with his entry Stone Zoo. The name is most likely based on the blocks between the Market Square and Senate Square that were given animal names such as the Lion, Elephant, Dromedary and Rhino in the 1800s. The City Hall was thoroughly renovated on a very large budget, as befitted the renewal spirit of the times. The first stage of the renovation was completed in autumn 1970. In the second 1985-1988 stage of renovation, Ruusuvuori supervised the build of a new council chamber and restaurant in the centre of the City Hall block.
Ruusuvuori steered the City Hall renovation according to three principles. First, it was important to showcase the most impressive parts of the building, such as the façade, the entrance colonnade and the Banquet Hall. Second, there needed to be a contrast between the new and old, showing their different profiles. And lastly, the design and implementation of the new architectural elements had to be done in the spirit of the older sections and on their terms. For Ruusuvuori, simple and elegant modernist architecture was just as valuable as the decorative Empire style.
Other significant works by Ruusuvuori include churches in the Finnish cities of Hyvinkää and Espoo, a primary school in the Helsinki district of Roihuvuori, the Weilin & Göös Printing Works (nowadays known as the WeeGee house) in Espoo, and the renovation of the Kluuvi office building in the Helsinki city centre.
During his career, Ruusuvuori also served as a professor at the Helsinki University of Technology, director of the Museum of Finnish Architecture, and editor of the Finnish Architectural Review. During his studies, he travelled extensively around the Nordic countries and Europe. In the early 1960s, before his great projects, he also visited the United States of America and India.
In 1998, after Ruusuvuori had passed away, City Hall was once again renovated. The building that had been the most modern “machine building” in its time, was technically outdated and no longer met the functional demands required of it. This time, Ruusuvuori’s 1960s architecture was the subject of the renovation’s protection and preservation.
Aarno Ruusuvuori: Structure is the Key to Beauty – Järjestys on kauneuden avain. Museum of Finnish Architecture 1992
Aulikki Korhonen: Aarno Ruusuvuori and the modern age. In The Lionheart of the City 1998