When Bjarke Ingels makes news, he really makes news. The superhero force behind the juggernaut that is BIG is in the running on Chicago's Navy Pier, has a giant heart pulsing in Times Square, just won a competition for Kimball Art Center in Park City, Utah, and now plans for his 49-story skyscraper in Vancouver, Canada have leaked, revealing a new "twist" on the traditional skyscraper. We've known for over a year that Ingels was planning the Vancouver tower, but now Vancity Buzz has revealed, in addition to the renderings, project details for the Beach & Howe Tower garnered from documents filed with the city. The current proposal calls for 600 residential units occupying the 490-foot-tall tower, which could become the city's fourth tallest building (and BIG's tallest tower, 40 feet taller than their W57 hybrid tower in Manhattan). Condos fill the upper floors while 180 apartments are situated in a nine-story podium base along with a mix of commercial and retail space. The program also calls for 713 parking spaces and 270 bike spaces. The development sits adjacent to the Granville Street Bridge and renderings show a lively array of uses ranging from a beer garden to a weekend market to an outdoor cinema beneath the massive highway deck. The tower's floor plate begins as a triangle at its base and rises, twisting and corbeling to form a rectangle at its summit, an aesthetic he also employed for his winning design at the Kimball Art Center. "The tower and base are a reinvention of the local typology, known as "Vancouverism." In this typology, slender towers are grouped with mixed-use podiums and street walls that define human-scale urban environments. The aim is to preserve view cones through the city while activating the pedestrian street," Bjarke Ingels said in a letter to the city of Vancouver. "The Beach and Howe Tower is a contemporary descendant of the Flatiron Building in New York City," whose site was considered unusable until technology and the economy made the iconic building possible. "Beach and Howe's architecture is not the result of formal excess or architectural idiosyncrasies, but rather the child of its circumstances," he said. Ingels said the tower's base pulls away from the busy elevated roadway, by about 30 feet, to provide extra space between residential units and the noise and pollution of traffic. The triangular shape was employed to allow sunlight to reach a nearby park. As the tower rises and concerns from noise and pollution diminish, the floor plates expand, creating the tower's twisting aesthetic. Details remain scarce at this point, but we're pretty sure the building is going to be pretty green as well.
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Bjarke Ingel's meteoric rise is perhaps the fastest of any architect since Eero Saarinen. His firm was just selected to design the renovation and expansion of the Kimball Art Center in Park City, Utah. Bjarke bested Will Bruder, Williams + Tsien, Brooks + Scarpa, and Sparano + Mooney. BIG's design calls for a torqued addition made of stacked railroad timbers. “BIG won the competition by proposing an iconic building that honors the spirit of Park City’s past and looks ahead into the 21st century," said juror Maurice Cox, in a statement. The phased project will begin in 2013 and be completed in 2015.
Last year, BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) got their heart broken by the Times Square Alliance, which chose a hula-hoop happy design by Freecell Studio for its annual Times Square Valentine's installation. Now a spokesperson from the Alliance admits that they always "loved" BIG's design and were willing to give it a second chance. This year, the Alliance didn't go online looking for love. Instead, they went back to a former flirtation, and chose BIG's entry from last year, shunning the possibility of outside suitors. BIG calls its 10-foot high glowing heart sculpture "BIG♥NYC." The design affair was something of a ménage à quatre, with Flatcut (the fabricator), Local Projects (the interaction designers), and Zumtobel (the lighting designers) pitching in on the effort. Four-hundred LED-lit acrylic tubes wrap a cube that bounds a suspended heart. Not surprisingly, when touched the heart grows brighter.
Five noted teams have been shortlisted from a pool of 18 to renovate and expand the Kimball Art Center (KAC) in Park City, Utah. The firms include BIG/Bjarke Ingels Group; Brooks + Scarpa Architects; Sparano + Mooney Architecture; Will Bruder + Parnets; and Todd Williams Billie Tsien Architects. The center offers exhibitions as well as art classes, workshops, and other educational programs. Plans call for renovating the interior of the existing KAC and constructing a new modern building next door. Each of the proposals will be displayed using augmented reality, photography, and video during the Sundance Film Festival from January 19 through the 29 and a jury will select a winner in February once the public has had a chance to weigh in on their favorites. Construction could begin as soon as mid-2013 with the new wing opening in 2015. "We want visitors to see Park City as an important emerging arts destination, and a new building of architectural importance, with an enhanced facility for the presentation of art, will do just that,” said Robin Marrouche, the Kimball's executive director, in a statement. “In addition to the positive economic effects the project could have on the region in the long term, we want to further enrich our community, allowing us to expand our exhibition and educational offerings and provide a much needed public gathering space in Old Town." BIG's proposal calls for a twisting, stacked timber structure made from reclaimed train tracks, enclosing an interior spiral staircase and topped with an roof terrace. A sculpture garden would be included on top of the original structure. Brooks + Scarpa Architects designed a honeycomb tower called the "Kimball Cloud" that incorporates solar energy and natural ventilation. A rooftop terrace and garden is included in the new building. Sparano + Mooney Architecture also calls for timber construction, this time inspired by the Aspen tree. The new building will be covered with a photovoltaic glass screen allowing the new space to be flooded with light. Will Bruder + Partners designed a building with a colored ceramic facade that references both the adjacent masonry buildings in Park City's historic district as well as the surrounding canyons. The proposal features a rooftop terrace and a central skylight. Todd Williams Billie Tsien's proposal, dubbed a "Box of Sky and Shadow," frames mountain views and includes an exterior scrim for film projects. Check out more images of the five proposals below. Click on a thumbnail to launch the slideshow.
After roaring into New York last year, BIG is reaping rewards from the American Institute of Architects who bestowed an Honor Award on the firm's aptly-named "8 House" in Copenhagen (it looks like a figure-8 in plan). The AIA jury lavished praise: "people really 'live' in this newly created neighborhood," which "provides an invigorating sculptural form while creating the ramped 'pedestrian' street system." Ramps around 8 House make it bikable—from the street up to its 10th level penthouses—and two sloping green roofs total over 18,000 SF where the building reaches down to the ground.
It's no mystery that Bjarke Ingels is a fan of mountains, but building craggy edifices hasn't been enough for the Danish leader of BIG. Now Bjarke has unveiled his firm's latest plans to incorporate "rooftop-skiing." He previously proposed the Hafjell Mountain Hotel in Norway in 2007 and more recently an imperiled Waste-to-Energy Plant in Denmark that appears to have stalled. The Danish firm's latest competition-winner is a 500,000-square-foot resort called Koutalaki Ski Village in the Lapland region of Finland, consisting of four landscaped buildings that double as ski slopes.
Ingels described the project as "grown from the natural topography rather than dropped from the sky." BIG's landscape-minded hybrid design "left the jury in awe," according to the Finnish developer Kassiopeia Finland Oy. The new manmade mountain is an extension to the existing framework provided by the Levi ski center. The new series of buildings will swirl out from the central square, touching the ground on both ends, enabling the skiers to descend in any direction from the rooftops. The resulting central plaza—which will be used for ice skating and music performances—will be sheltered and intimate, while at the same time open to the views of the surrounding landscapes. In the off season, the manmade landscapes will turn green, blending with the surrounding forest environment for picnics and hiking.
In Bjarke Ingels' traditional style, what started as a standard box of a building for Paris' Université Pierre et Marie Curie has been lifted, bent, and deformed to maximize light, sight lines, and air flow for a cramped urban site. Ingels' firm BIG and Paris-based OFF recently won won a competition to design the new multidisciplinary research center called Paris PARC to reunite the university's campus with the surrounding city including Jean Nouvel's adjacent Institut du Monde Arabe and the nearby Notre Dame Cathedral. BIG’s design calls for a specific geometry to coordinate the new building with its neighbors from varying historical periods while taking into account optimized daylight access, views, and accessibility. PARC emphasizes its axial relationship to the cathedral with large panoramic windows offering views of Notre Dame and the Parisian skyline. The exterior is slightly titled, creating a canyon-like central atrium that provides greater access to natural light and promotes visibility among laboratories and office spaces. There is also public access to the rooftop, which offers further panoramic views of the city. “As a form of urban experiment the Paris PARC is the imprint of the pressures of its urban context. Wedged into a super dense context—in terms of space, public flows and architectural history—the PARC is conceived as a chain of reactions to the various external and internal forces acting upon it," said Ingels in a statement. "Inflated to allow daylight and air to enter into the heart of the facility, compressed to ensure daylight and views for the neighboring classrooms and dormitories, lifted and decompressed to allow the public to enter from both plaza and park and finally tilted to reflect the spectacular view of the Paris skyline and the Notre Dame to the Parisians.”
"Banality," the theme of Storefront's Critical Halloween costume fundraiser, was manifested in an array of clever--and occasionally perplexing--forms on Saturday evening at the 3-Legged Dog in Manhattan. Blizzard-like conditions did not deter a group of over 250 design-o-philes and at least one (in)famous party crasher from getting decked out in spandex, foam, plush, rubber, tulle, and acres of cardboard. The weather did prevent Liz Diller from arriving to judge the costume contest, but her fearless partner Charles Renfro stepped into the breach, and channeling Damien Hirst in a rhinstone-studded skull mask ("Greed"), took his place alongside judges Wangechi Mutu (embodying Pantone's "Bluebird") and Justin Davidson (dressed as an architecture critic). Each of the three judges picked a winner, and all the winners happened to come in pairs: "Eyes of the Beholder" (Lisa and Ted Landrum); "1:1 Human Scale, male + female" (Kyle May and Julia van den Hout); and the intriguing "Doll Face" (Mark Kroeckel/moustache and Alison Cutlan). Some architects riffed on their own current work in the costumes (Jing Liu/SO-IL, Meissen exhibition) while others seem to reflect more a state of mind (Bjarke Ingels/BIG, King Kong with colleague Daniel as the Empire State Building; Mitch Joachim/Terreform1 as "Not Bucky"). Now Storefront and Domus are sponsoring an online People's Choice contest. Whose costume gets your vote for most critically banal? See the line-up here.
If Bjarke Ingels' ascension into starchitecture hasn't been dramatic enough, the Danish architect is again moving up in the world. On Friday, Ingels' firm BIG threw a party to christen their new office space in Manhattan. BIG has expanded its Chelsea presence, moving up from the third to the twelfth floor of the Starrett-Lehigh Building. A press preview of the new space preceded the party a couple floors above. Among those in attendance were Crown Prince Frederik and Princess Mary of Denmark, who earlier this month awarded Ingels the $90,000 Culture Prize—the MacArthur of Scandinavia—for his emerging work in architecture. Now it looks like Ingels' October has just been getting started. The Wall Street Journal Magazine will declare the Danish architect among its inaugural Innovators of the Year. Bjarke, seemingly by-passing starchitect status directly to super-starchitect, wins in the architecture category for "his wildly expressive structures, including the radical re-imagining of the New York high-rise apartment building, his commitment to sustainability and his philosophy of 'pragmatic utopianism.'" Richard Wurman, architect, author, and founder of the TED conferences (at which Bjarke has spoken) will present the trailblazing award to Ingels this Thursday at the Museum of Modern Art. No word yet on whether royalty will be in attendance. Ai Weiwei took the innovator award for art, Katie Grand for fashion, Elon Musk for technology, Steve Ells for food, Joris Laarman for design, and Bill Gates' and Warren Buffett's The Giving Pledge for philanthropy. Profiles of each of these Innovators of the Year will be featured in the October 29 issue of WSJ Magazine.
BIG won’t let its ambitions be impeded by the laws of physics--namely, gravity. For a competition to plan and design the area around the Hjulsta Intersection, a massive highway infrastructure project just north of Stockholm, BIG teamed up with firms Grontji and Spacescape to create “Energy Valley,” and their winning master plan addresses not only the area around the highway interchange but also above it. The plan's surreal defining feature is “a reflective, self‐sustaining hovering sphere mirroring Stockholm as it is, new and old, creating a 180 degree view of the area for the drivers on their way in or out of the city.” Covered with photovoltaic film and tethered to the ground, this mysterious giant orb would supposedly generate enough solar and wind power to keep itself aloft while also providing power for over 200 surrounding houses. The orb floats above a man-made valley that incorporates a variety of natural environments, from forests to wetlands. “The Energy Valley is a cross‐over between urbanism, landscape, architecture, art, and infrastructure into a new neighborhood of Stockholm. Harnessing the momentum of the massive investment in tunnels and highways and putting the excess excavation to use as a man‐made valley, we create an interdisciplinary hybrid of logistic, economic, environmental and social infrastructure,” said BIG founder Bjarke Ingels. Oh, yes, there's a bike path, too. In the invited competition BIG beat out the Norwegian landscape firm Snøhetta, Danish landscape architect Kristine Jensen, and the Swedish firm Erik Giudice Architects. The scheme certainly fits Ingels' “hedonistic sustainability” approach, but if this fantastical idea actually comes to pass, we’re betting his future work will leave earth behind altogether for the final frontier.
I assumed he would be articulate as all OMA graduates are, and I’d heard he was as intellectually entertaining as only those TED Talk types can be, but I was surprised that Bjarke Ingels, the Danish architect recently taking the city in a storm of media, could also simply converse. And he did so with ease last night in a Q&A with The Architect's Newspaper as part of a Design Trust for Public Space council member drive at the oh-so-private Core Club. The theme was "New York After Bloomberg," which frankly scares some people, especially architects, as the mayor has been a practically unprecedented supporter of the building arts and enlightened zoning throughout his three-term tenure. Not that Ingels was prepared to address that scary subject per se. But the audience was far from disappointed with his slide show of current work backing up his theory of “hedonistic sustainability.” Who would disagree with the importance of doing the right thing, an embraceable position whether developers, architects or citizens? And so he showed hilarious slides of visitors to his Shanghai Expo bike ramp underpinned by the lesson that cars and bikes must find a way to co-exist, and provoked wows with his mountain of trash at a waste disposal plant turned urban ski slope, complete with a smoke stack that puffs educational smoke rings. (Dads can tell their children, he said, that ten puffs are equal to an astonishing ten tons of carbon dioxide.) He smoothly explicated his 57th Street project for the Durst Organization, showing how its unconventional deconstructed pyramid shape responded with perfect rationality to an assortment of empirical needs. It was impressive and it was impossible to know how his sunny can-do approach is going to fly in the molten Mordor-like power-field that is New York’s built environment. And so I asked him how his first community board meeting went; he parried that he’d been through worse in Copenhagen when presenting a proposal for a mosque. No one quite believed him. And when asked if he could handle the demands for affordable housing, he was at the ready describing how his most famous built work to date, 8 House in Copenhagen, is based on an offset stacking of pre-fab units, a kind of Habitat for the 21st century. He seemed a little behind times in noting how wonderfully New York had embraced new bike lanes. But much appreciated was his reference to working for Rem Koolhaas and OMA as his “tour of Nam,” while he has clearly modeled his international staffing on Rem’s approach to diverse hires. BIG has recently moved to the Starrett-Lehigh in Chelsea and is preparing for projects that “will be made public throughout the year,” as BIG’s director of business development, Kai-Uwe Bergmann, told the Real Estate Weekly. But for us, it was also appealing that Ingels did not only come to these shores out of blind ambition, but to follow a girl. It is clearly going to be interesting in the next five years to see what Ingels does to New York, and what New York does to Ingels, whether or not it’s post-Bloomberg.
Last night we enjoyed a sold-out lecture at LACMA by the force that is Danish architect Bjarke Ingels. At age 36 the founder of BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) has accomplished more than most architects do in their lifetimes. How does he do it? We're still trying to figure that out. Here are a few theories: 1.) He acts on every smart and/or crazy impulse and actually follows through. 2.) He marries utopian ideas with pragmatism 3.) He's an amazing speaker and marketer. 4.) He seems to have more energy than just about anyone. Take for example, the video (after the jump) of Ingels riding a bike through his spiral-shaped Danish Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo. What better way to show off his architecture and his boundless energy. Genius. Stay tuned for our interview with Ingels, coming soon...