BIG WORK

WeWork taps Bjarke Ingels to be its first “chief architect”

East News
Adam Neumann and Bjarke Ingels (Alexei Hay)

In Manhattan, there are two things we keep seeing everywhere: WeWork and Bjarke Ingels. From its signature coworking office spaces to an elementary school, WeWork cofounder Adam Neumann seems intent on infiltrating every aspect of people’s lives. According to WeWork’s blog, the plan “starts with every space for every member and scales to every building in every city.”

Danish architect Bjarke Ingels is also cropping up around NYC (quite literally as the BIG U will encircle downtown Manhattan) as well as VIA 57 West, Two World Trade, 40th Precinct Police Station, the Spiral at Hudson Yards, and the Eleventh.

With all of this in mind, it seems inevitable that the two would team up for dual domination: WeWork has hired Ingels as its first “chief architect.” Ingels will continue to lead his offices out of Copenhagen and London as he creates more WeWork spaces.

“WeWork was founded at the exact same time as when I had arrived to New York. In that short amount of time – the blink of an eye at the time scale of architecture–they have accomplished incredible things and they are committed to continuing their trajectory to places we can only imagine. WeWork’s commitment to community and culturally driven development is perfectly aligned with our active, social and environmental agendas. As WeWork takes on larger and more holistic urban and architectural challenges, I am very excited to contribute with my insights and ideas to extend their community-oriented vision to ground-up buildings and urban neighborhoods,” Ingels said in a statement.

His first task will be to transform the former Lord & Taylor building into WeWork’s new headquarters. He is also working on the aforementioned school, WeGrow. As Fast Company reported, Neumann and Ingels have a shared, confident vision:

“I [Neumann] said, ‘Give me your favorite building.’

“He [Ingels] said, ‘I don’t have one favorite building because of the design-by-committee situation. I get one or three amazing original ideas that I’ve been working on for a decade in a building, but there were seven other ideas that were not exactly mine.’

“I said, ‘I want all your best ideas in one building.’

“He said, ‘If someone actually allowed me to do it, I could design the perfect office building or perfect residential building.’

“I said, ‘Perfect, that’s a big word.’

“He said, ‘No one’s ever given me a shot.’”

Sounds like the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

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