Bjarke Ingels, the architect for U.S. Immigration Fund projects West 57th and 76 Eleventh Avenue in New York, has become an international success and one of the most popular names in the architectural world. Ingels explains in an interview the importance of the relationship between a client and an architect. 

2 February, 2018 | Equipo Editorial | Translated by Marina Gosselin

  [caption id="attachment_25060" align="aligncenter" width="580"] Image Courtesy of UDEM[/caption]

In just 13 years since its inception, Danish firm BIG has earned world renown for its inventive architecture and its founder, Bjarke Ingels, has become one of the most popular names in the architectural world. However, with success comes criticism; BIG has been called out by some critics for what they believe is the "infantilization of architecture," referring to their designs as isolated, self-admiring and solely photogenic.

On her most recent visit to Spain, Spanish journalist Anatxu Zabalbeascoa spoke with Ingels about the impact of the Danish office on architecture and how their work wavers on a tightrope between "breakthrough projects for the world of the powerful" and "a face for people who are not happy with existing architectural models."

The conversation addresses the impact of IT giants such as Google on urban planning, Ingels' relationship with Rem Koolhaas – at whose firm, OMA, Ingels worked for a year and a half – his personal life and the hectic world of architecture, specifically regarding the commission for 2 World Trade Center, for which BIG was hired to replace an original design by Foster + Partners. Speaking on the relationship between client and architect, Ingels explains:

"In the world of architecture, there are many things beyond the control of architects, than there are under their control. No matter how wonderful a building is; if there is no client, it doesn't get built."

The office is behind iconic projects in its native Denmark such as the Mountain Dwellings and 8 House in its early years, to the new Google headquarters in London and San Francisco, and projects in Manhattan such as VIA 57 West. All can be reduced to their key architectural move or symbol – which is in fact how BIG's website is organized, as a library of symbols. When Zabalbeascoa wonders if "different has to be photogenic," Ingels defends his vision:

"Rethinking architecture implies being prepared to accept oddities. We aren't interested in the definition of beauty as a proportion. We don't want to disguise them as normal buildings."

Dec. 6 | Aniqa Ajmal During the Annual Skyscraper Award by information specialist Emporis, The Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) designed Via 57 West was declared the world’s best skyscraper. The building takes almost an entire block in Manhattan, NYC and looks like a strange futuristic pyramid. The Emporis Skyscraper Awards have been running for almost 17 years now,  and considers buildings that are over 100m (328 ft) tall. This is a 32 story residential building and doesn’t look like an ordinary skyscraper but its unique design was the reason that it was declared the best skyscraper in the world. Architect Bjarke Ingels says that the tetrahedral design of the building is a mix of a skyscraper and European housing block with a central courtyard. He dubs the central courtyard as “court-scraper.” The courtyard itself features the same proportions as Central Park but at 13000th the size of it. The shape of courtyard ensures that there will be plenty of sunlight inside, and as a bonus, great views too. An unnamed Emporis jury member commented on the building saying, “It’s impressive how the architect rethinks the whole idea of a skyscraper. The building is a fantastic addition to the New York skyline.” Second place was awarded to Torre Reforma, Mexico City’s tallest skyscraper. It has a height of 804 ft (245 m). It is the tallest structure with exposed concrete and its triangular form comprises of two concrete walls and has one glazed section. Apart from giving it a unique look, the concrete walls also prevent the interior from getting warm by the sun. Torre Reforma has been specifically designed to withstand earthquakes and heavy winds. The interior of the building is organized into 14 sections and each section has its own private interior garden. The best part of the building is that the architects retained and integrated an already existing house on the site instead of demolishing it. This house was integrated into the main lobby.  

BY CITYREALTY STAFF TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2017 [caption id="attachment_23550" align="aligncenter" width="825"] L to R: 461 Dean Street, VIA 57 WEST, HOUSE39[/caption] New York is a city of renters, we're...