Architect Bjarke Ingels had plenty to celebrate at his company’s 10th anniversary party earlier this month in New York. Aside from the staircase-like structure for Rupert Murdoch’s media empire at 2 World Trade Center, the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has a full plate with projects for Google’s new Mountain View, Calif., campus, an Abu Dhabi art gallery, the redesign of the Audemars Piguet Museum and a yet-to-be-announced futuristic stadium for the National Football League.
There is also “the honeycomb”-designed residential building in the Bahamas that is being bankrolled by Tiger Woods among other investors; a three-schools-in-one complex nearing completion in the Faroe Islands, and a new habitat for the Copenhagen Zoo’s white pandas. Accustomed to the transient demands of his job, Ingels has a burgeoning East Coast office. During the launch event for Biomega’s OKO electric bike for urbanites, Ingels ran through some of his upcoming commissions as well as ones still on the wish list. Ingles had a hand in the design of the OKO bike — which can be pedaled or powered — through the Copenhagen-based design firm KiBiSi he started with Jens Martin Skibsted and Lars Larsen. Austere’s Fredrik Carlström is selling the $2,300 e-bike in the U.S.
Scant on specifics pending an official NFL announcement, Ingels said his team’s redesign of the stadium will magnify the experience. “It could represent a paradigm change in stadium design whereas at some point it was only about being better, or just bigger. Now there is a whole set of aspects,” Ingels said. “There’s interest, since the televised experience is getting so good. TVs are getting so good and big, and there are all these things you can do with them. The thing we’ve emphasized is the entire experience and the intimacy of the whole experience to make the live feeling and the communal feeling as massive as possible.”
BIG is also on the shortlist to redesign FC Barcelona’s Camp Nou stadium, which would involve among other things the addition of 6,000 seats – boosting capacity to 105,000. Combined with the planned renovations for Palau Blaugrana — a nearby arena that which will be awarded to a different architectural team — the project is said to be a nearly $637 million one.
BIG already has been green-lit to renovate Audemars Piguet Museum and its adjacent hotel in Le Brassus, Switzerland. Once the groundbreaking takes place next year, Ingels and his team will add a 25,800-square-foot building, including an area to display 1,300 of the luxury brand’s timepiece spanning 250 years. “One of their tag lines is, ‘To break the rules, first you must master them.’ They’re good,” Ingels said. Audemars Piguet executives declined any further comment.
With Heatherwick Studio, BIG is designing Google’s North Bayshore offices in Mountain View, Calif., where staffers will work beneath glass canopies to maximize natural light and air. Instead of stairs, there will be cycling lanes and ramps Adding to the mobility will be lightweight block-like structures, that will be meant to be moved around easily as the company invests in new product areas. As Google’s vice president of real estate and workplace services David Radcliffe noted earlier this year, “Our self-driving car team, for example, has very different needs when it comes to office space from our Search engineers.”
Asked what he has found to be inspirationally intriguing, Ingels said, “The whole office — about 120 people — just came back from a scouting trip in Switzerland where in terms of architecture they’re doing incredibly well. All over Switzerland, the quality of the craftsmanship in all trades is just incredible.”
Fashion is another source of inspiration, but Ingels has no immediate plans to collaborate with any designers, despite recent requests. Regarding his own favorites, he said, “I can’t say there is anyone that I’m religious about. Generally, I think Scandinavian and Japanese brands speak to me. I would hate to be the one to give fashion advice to anyone,” he said. “Being an architect, it’s very easy to just wear black — different shades of black.”