Cities for Tomorrow 2015 – Social Infrastructure with Bjarke Ingels

PRK ingles is here he has established himself as one of the world's most inventive and sought-after architects his transforming the shape of New York as we know today I think the sense of width the fun is always there is current project include a pyramid shaped tower on Manhattan's West Side the fourth tower at the World Trade Center a Danish power plant featuring a rooftop ski slope and a collaboration with fellow architect Thomas Heather with on Google's new headquarters anyway I say the having a style is having certain things you have to do all the time or certain things you would never allow yourself to do a style is almost like the sum of all your inhibitions Architects have to become more than just designers of two-dimensional facades we have to become designers of ecosystems architecture at its best is really the power to make the world a little bit more like our dreams ladies and gentlemen please welcome New York Times chief architecture critic Michael Kimmelman and his guest founding partner and creative director of big bianca ingles hi Bianca nice to see you pleasure and I see all of you – so you're 40 years old I think and most architects at the age of 40 are still trying to figure out what they're where their first job is going to come from if they're not in working a firm you're doing projects all over the world and you're designing redesigning New York City your three major projects in New York now and one – World Trade and West 57th Street and the dryline so let's talk a little bit about New York and what you're doing here for starters maybe we can begin by talking about – world trade you can tell us about what what the project is and what you plan to do there yes I think if we have a bit of some uses yes so essentially it is of course it's the World Trade Center site is also where 9/11 occurred almost 14 years ago and it's also the cradle of the of the skyscraper it's basically where the skyscraper as a typology evolved it's also at the at the meeting point between Tribeca like where you have like almost at European Street scapes city blocks and then financial district where you have the skyscrapers and in a way we thought we could almost like make a building that would feel equally at home in the – in the tumor neighborhoods so essentially where the financial district used to be banks just all kinds of financial institutions now it's becoming a place where a lot of different creative companies are going so you have very different buildings within the building the way the the what happened with 9/11 changed the character of the neighborhood so that the problem of the neighborhood being a kind of monolithic thing people get to move in is there was opportunity now it's actually a place people want to live as well excel you have changes but this changes the character of the world trade side as well which was conceived at the end of the last century really as this is office park yeah yeah I think like one of the things you've seen in New York is that over the last decade maybe the the skyscraper has gone from being a purely business driven architectural typology into a place where people live when you look at at 57th Street high-rise row it's all these like ultra high-end condos they can just like look out and see the the park and I think it done a good thing I think I think one of the interesting things about the architecture and urbanism is that as architects we're not really the creators of the city we are rather like the midwives essentially we sort of assist the city in giving birth to itself so you can as an ITEX say that now I would like to do you know a three million square foot skyscraper and it's going to be the home of this kind of company and this kind of company like it's it's the completely other way around like some there's a need there's a desire and then we have a capacity to try to translate that those concerns and demands and dreams into physical form yeah but you make the architect sound a little more passive or receptive then maybe I'm comfortable with you do you think the architect really is just sort of receiving other people's ideas and realizing them there's no there's no agency I think there is it's a bit like if you are painting a portrait you can say architectures like portraiture is that you can say it would be sad and I think this is true for some architects is that no matter who you were painting a portrait of it looks like yourself in a way whereas I think the the mission is to be able to capture not only the appearance but the character the personality the aura the soul if you like of the subject you're trying to portray and that means that if you are listening and observing as an architect you will find the ingredients that will make one building look radically different from another building because you are you're trying to capture a completely different situation right so what is to world driven what are you trying to capture and what's the personality at stake I think one of the things we we right away who's your clients it's it's for News Corp and and Fox and of course it's also for silverstein so so silverstein is like this sort of a sort of archetypical Manhattan a real-estate developer and then the news Corbin Fox Alice was a sort of a like yeah like a disruptive media company so I think it's like that encounter already is is quite interesting I think him you can see from from above it's like almost these sort of Hanging Gardens where you actually have the different city blocks that are proportions you know for film studios and TV studios on the lower levels newsrooms are the higher levels and that actually leaves space to actually have giant gardens on multiple level okay so now I have to ask you I have you ever been in a garden on a balcony on the 80th floor of a building windy up there vodka I think it's a I have the much too rarely been on a garden on the 80th door of the building because I think when I came to New York five years ago I noticed that real estate developers they didn't want outdoor space at all they just saw it as nuisance and and that and the general sort of truism was that them which is like a self-fulfilling prophecy is that but you know nobody really like looks for balcony so that's because I got hardly any buildings had balconies and I think once you get the outdoor space I think you silverstein was realizing that the the one the one outdoor space that they have on the Mackay tower at the World Trade Center has been sort of incredibly sought after and in that sense I think you're going to see more and more that the office is not just something that happens in sort of an infinite landscape of cubicles where you have no conception of the outside there is like this sort of a much more flexible and dynamic workspace and and retention the fact that you actually create a lovely work environment it's becoming more important with you but I'm anxious to see how that works when you're actually out there in the anything but a day like this when it's really windy and and cold it's a lot to ask but I got on the 80th floor III come from a comfortable Denmark yeah actually so which is a and I think the the only the only car you should have in Denmark in general people bicycle but the only kind should have this convertible car because you know if the Sun is always shining who cares but if you if you are living in a country where where it's hardly ever nice to be outside then you really have to enjoy every second of it when so anyway tell me a little more so the stack goes up yes so basically also like it's basically here you seeing it from the Tribeca side where it has like it's kind of abstract avant-garde accumulation of city blocks also as as the building gets higher it also gets wider so you get this sort of downward facing news chica because like actually in news Corbin Fox I'm running the news ticker on Times Square so now it's actually going to move down here and how high will those tickers be how how how readable do you think that they'll be from the ground there'll be a ten-foot tall a nice big legible writing but but then also then you'll see like on every single we try to make multiple levels enjoy the outdoor Gardens so here you are sort of on the 30th floor in other places where we having conference spaces with little courtyards so you actually have in the middle of a very big building you have these very small and intimate moments that you normally wouldn't associate with working on the 50th floor so I stuck in here a Google slide this is a slide from the plan you have done with Heather work to do the campus at Google in Silicon Valley and I put it in print cause sometimes when I look at your projects I see recurring motifs and so tell me you know I I see an idea of what a workspace is what life is like really that is in your head I'm not sure it's it's actually out there but it's in your head and it looks like this so what do you what what's the connection well I think it's you know when the when the internet arrived and IT exploded and everybody thought suddenly like physical location location and proximity became irrelevant but paradoxically the big discovery is that when you're working with with innovation and a major part of developing products or services is to try to connect the dots that it is actually the physical proximity the visual and physical connectivity between you and your colleagues and the different consultants that that drives innovation and if you can see your colleagues you might go and talk to them you might remember I had to talk with this guy about this thing and if you can see the stare if it's not just the fire stare then but you can actually see this they're going a few floors over down you are enticed to to take it instead of waiting for the elevator and I think the more you sort of the more the architecture invites for this sort of interaction both physically and visually the more you're going to accelerate the exchange of ideas and the and the speed of innovation I mean I hear this and I know that this is what people say and I think I told you one time going out to look at these offices in San Francisco and I was talking to people from Gensler and elsewhere some of the architectural firms they were designing his offices and people work there and I said how do you like your open office which had you know the usual ping pong tables and the place to eat and all this kind of stuff and everyone was sitting together and I finally went up to these guys who were working at a desk together the Salesforce of one of these firms I said how do you like this and they sort of stood at attention because I was with the CEO of the company and the guy from the architectural firm Gensler and there was a moment of awkward silence and the guy said I hate it I said why he said because this guy sitting next to me is on the phone he never shuts up I can't hear myself think I have no place to go to get please quiet so my question for you is so now the moment is that officers are supposed to look like this open connectivity the sense of is this actually how people want to is it really do we think that's where it's going yeah I think you work in architecture from everyone's quiet saying behind a desk because like I take so well-behaved I was trying to trying to click the back the back button yeah here so I think the problem of the office landscape and I think this is one of the sort of inherent flaws of modernism was that there was this idea that there was for every question there was a universal answer that so that in a way there was the perfect solution for everything you had to do you had this idea of the residence for existence minimum like this sort of a idea that you could monitor the movements of a housewife and the 50s in the kitchen and then you could design the perfect kitchen also you could create the perfect workspace that was a digital Universal array of cubicles which became the office landscape and I think the what we're seeing is we've done we've conducted some analysis on Googlers and they have a actually have surprisingly a higher percentage of introverts than then a typical work environment of course I cannot have them at need to code so they need to be able to focus you know like plugging into the matrix and in that same order what we are providing as you can see is that there is actually a lot of spaces that are contained where we're controlling acoustics and the visual environment but then the way that they connect they create these sort of cascading landscapes so essentially I think what you're seeing today is that they're they're the idea of the universal answer has abandoned in favor of basically realizing if people are different than workspaces need to need to be different residences need to be different you need to provide the diversity let's move on with the building because I won't talk about the site as well of to world trade and something about the shape of the building you've designed this by the way is the top of the building right a screening room yeah it's a it's everybody involves dream that since we are designing a project for a cinema company to have the screening room where the view you after the film might be even more mesmerizing than the images you see during the the film yeah so Fox is a cinema company I hadn't realized that I thought but go back it would go on I think we have some slides of this of the site as well yeah so talk to me a little bit about a lot of your we can't talk about drug detection without talking about the formal aspects of it and often asymmetry and the kind of dynamism a kind of playfulness is just inherent in the language you use in fact here there's a quality to this building from certain angles I think it almost looks off-balance and I heard you once mentioned that someone referred to this and they saw as different metaphors for the meaning of this to me I see this as kind of reconstructing the Twin Towers in a different way but the way these buildings will be perceived as as a kind of not identical twin and I'm just wondering if you could talk a little bit before we talk about the site itself about your notion of the relationship of the building to One World Trade and by the way what do you think of One World Trade I'm not so fond of it all right actually I I also I also noticed that the Banksy when he was in New York he had proposed a an article I think for the New York Times that that you finally chose not to print but where he had he was writing about One World Trade yeah and then he had put in a space holder that says replaced with para artwork which was kinda hilarious but I must say that I personally do like one world trade quite a bit because I do think that the the skyscrapers and you know in a city that invented the skyscraper Chicago might dispute the that statement but uh the skyscrapers that really stand the test of time are the skyscrapers that are the most confident the ones that are pure manifestation of the blatant idea so it was like the the grace Tower by a bunch shaft leave a house Seagram a lot of the sort of classic som towels down in a sorry and like the Flatiron it's like a perfect extrusion of a triangle a lot and I think then there was a moment you know that then you know you got like post-modernism where you have like a generic institution with an interesting hat and then and then came sort of the aftermath of post-post Madison where the confidence was gone the places you were gone and then every tower had to be sort of a little bit insecure and then just to show that it was also responding to the surroundings you had to like mess it up and and I think at least the One World Trade has some of the blatant see of a big idea of course it's also being penalized by having to respond to so much this is a security code but at the site there let's talk about that site for a while I can't help but feel it's an it's an office park why is this not an office park why are you not just building another tower for an office park and it is that what it is no I think what it is is that it's a it's essentially the last piece in what I really see to be the revitalization of downtown Manhattan because 9/11 didn't just like blast the the Twin Towers it also started the migration away from downtown Manhattan that further got assassinated by the financial collapse if it doesn't but we were just saying a second ago it started a transformation of downtown Manhattan into a much more mixed-use place where you had a lot of companies moving in and also residents it did certainly eliminate some of the big corporate office towers but Goldman's gone up there and others have to know but i but i but i agree but it really started with a massive migration away which also then opened up the doors for like the classic sort of processes then you know rents drop pioneers come in you have a whole new kind of tenant base we moved to the intersection of Wall Street and Broadway I love to proclaim that it's the perfect location for an architecture office because it's at the intersection of the quintessential Street of Commerce and creativity so you couldn't be located more nicely and and we actually have cheaper rents than in Chelsea so so in that sense you're seeing a whole new neighborhood coming then with aftermath of 9/11 eight acres of pack has suddenly created a big oasis which is of course the memorial but it's also like a really really lovely as it works as a park I think you can see that if you if you go there now even though there's still a lot of construction going on on the perimeter you really sense that it is a really big new park and use it as a park definitely new yorkers i think that's inevitable so it also has a will see it also has the Calatrava station the path station which would you like to say something about it yeah now I show you like I think again like I think I'm I also like to look at the the positive side of things and of course a lot a lot of people white question if it if it was really worth four billion dollars but I think what we have to remember is for anybody mentioned the number but okay yeah I guess and I think that's even the optimistic number but for subway stop yeah it does sound generous I'm photoshopping but but but I do think of what we should remember is that I think it's it's going to be a spectacular neighbor I love this idea of of this sort of a dinosaur skeleton stranded between the skyscrapers and I think the canopy creates a metaphor I still don't get that metaphor the oculus I'm I'm not sure like but but I think it has this like skeletal quality that I do think has something almost shoe ban something like 19th century heroic structure and that brings me to I've we doing a project in the Smithsonian in Washington DC so I've been taking Amtrak like countless times and you know the the main station in DC is a wonderful sort of the Civic architecture a generous accommodating public space full of like live activities and some of the best shoe shiners in the in the country you have like a Philly station and then you have Penn Station which is the absolute opposite it's from this time where everything had to be so utilitarian and so rigorous that space was purely measured in floor space ceiling height forget about it the idea that you could have a sort of an architectural solution that would make navigation and orientation intuitive was replaced by having this the most stressful space in all of a Manhattan where you have it's like very very flat claustrophobic space with a single billboard where everybody's like dying to see which gate they have to board from so I think I think in that sense what I do see whether the oculus is a return to a realization that public infrastructure is public space and it can't just be measured on purely utilitarian means it has to be something else and then everybody's criticizing it for being a giant shopping mall but actually when and I've been looking at a lot of photos of how beautiful Penn Station used to be it was probably the most beautiful of all the stations but it had zero income like it so essentially in the end it was bankrupted so in a way you need to to provide something like that it was almost too good to be true like literally in the end it couldn't remain true and it brought got replaced by this like ultra utilitarianism and what you need is somehow to to find hybrids where you have both the public university but also financial free to be out fair enough and we won't dwell on this too long but I would say that while it is true that Penn Station was insupportable economically at the end it's serving an enormous number of the people cast station there will serve optimistically 50,000 people and otherwise be a shopping mall so the public expense of those four billion dollars has to be weighed against I think there's probably a piece of calculus that I'm not going to be in a column but but let's talk for a second let's skip ahead the time we have just very quickly to look at the project you're doing speaking of infrastructure called the dry line so could you skip to the dry line if you could yeah basically does this is an example I think a bit yeah I think the explain what it is here woody yeah the dryline was basically triggered by by Sandy the fact that it wiped out all of lower Manhattan I think according to the New Yorker it gave rise to a whole new neighborhood in New York and and the basic idea is to try to provide all of the necessary resilience all of the infrastructure necessary to protect the city from the next flooding but in a way that doesn't become a barrier like a seawall that segregates the life from the city from the water around it but actually becomes amenity you can say like we try to learn from the High Line because the High Line I think is interesting because it is a piece of decommissioned infrastructure former train tracks that have now become one of the most popular parks in the city so our question was what if you don't have to wait until the instructure it gets decommissioned what if you can actually design it from the get-go to come with positive social and environmental side effects so the image you're seeing here is on the East River which is phase one of the of the dry line that we're doing right now to be clear so this goes from 23rd Street south right this is phase one and you didn't say this but this grew out of a HUD sponsored Federal sponsored competition exactly with a couple billion dollars involved to look for resilient solutions around the eastern seaboard where sandy had affected the areas like Manhattan but also Hoboken and right just exacting so just step back one more second so your idea was the the the waterfront of Manhattan was needed to be greened yes I'm just trying to fill in the missing piece because why'd you do something no it is bases like if we're going to invest millions or even billions of dollars in protecting the city from flooding if we're going to like order some some concrete elements so we're going to move in some cranes we're going to like push them dirt around we might as well do it in a way that doesn't create negative social side effects because like everybody that kind of Robert Moses attitude Wohlers you can have like you know all kinds of infrastructure projects come with side effects because they're so massive so like highways that create like scary on the sides like highways that segregate one neighborhood from another well what's already there the FDI is a typical example of how infrastructure has negative side effects so we thought like what if we can take because we know what needs to be done we have all kinds of reports by the best engineers in the country establishing what other what are the likely threats and how can we respond to them so you're creating what at that site just to be clear you you get you have by the way I think by winning this competition you have some three or four hundred million dollars that are towards this project and what's going to happen and what's why isn't it being built already it is New York City that has the dollars but uh but we're helping them spend them wisely but essentially that the idea is that as the whole stretch changes in some places where you are here on this image we have space with the East River Park so there we are actually using the necessary berming to create a race resilient landscape that actually provides a DA access to the overpasses we're making these generous bridges that are not like these caged like a cat walks but actually like almost like little pieces of Highline that flow over the landscape it also protects the park from the noise of the highway and it and it protects the city from from flooding you can see another example you notice is going to be and this this as it is it's not part of the funding but it is on Ted Street we thought it would be nice to extend this effort into the into the water to create a river bath because when we the way we did it this project was we we knew what needs to be done but we knew we didn't want to do but Robert Moses like another sort of a giant of urban history in New York City is Jane Jacobs and there was this David Goliath moment where he tried to run a highway through Greenwich Village she rallied the local community and others she was one sorry yeah I sorry and defeated the plans and we thought it would have been more interesting if they would have collaborated so we thought that the dryline think of it as a love child of Robert Moses and change Jacobs so essentially because to resist an incoming sandy you need a very holistic 12 miles of contiguous water fan protection but to make it urban is to be successful it needs to happen rooted in the local communities so we what about community approvals what's what's welcome to New York how is this going so far so far what happens whether we spent the first like nine months of pregnancy actually meeting with the representatives of all the different local communities all along the big U and six months into the process we started focusing on the on the East River part so we met with people from good old Lower East Side low aside ready Chinatown like that the the whole works and and from from a good old aloha side we were met with this like typical criticism but now you're going to change something you're going to like trigger some massive gentrification and and we're going to be sort of a pushed out eventually so there was a in the beginning there was almost like a reluctance to serve your own interest right but then I think what they saw was that we were not trying to push down a fait accompli we were actually at the next meeting when we met with them we had taken notes of all the feedback they gave us and we brought a smorgasbord which is a Scandinavian word that has now become an American word so I learned it going here a smorgasbord of different options or different designs that would materialize some of their ideas and together with them we ended up so building together a whole set of ideas because like one of the ideas we had that got killed was the strategy of wet feet so saying what if we just in the all the nine shot housing the the public housing you have along the East River what if we just move people out of the ground floor build a brand new building for all of the ground-floor apartments and then we put public amenities like little kiosks community spaces etc on the ground floor so we create a more diverse plan and we rebuild that ground floor so it can actually endure flooding so that the buildings could actually stand with wet feet for day or two nobody would have their house at risk and would actually bring a whole new set of programs for for the neighborhood but but there the fear was so yeah okay you're going to like move out the people from the ground flow but you're never going to build the the other building so I think there was also definitely a process of building trust that that we're in the middle of right now yeah I look at you with astonishment with the idea that you would just go to a nitrile project and say you're going to do this and they would say well that's fine that sounds like a good idea that would be miraculous but it is interesting by the way that there's a lot of discussion now and there has been for years and but now it seems to be coming together as well about rethinking these Nitra projects where many of which of course are orphaned and don't have any street life and have many needs and so that's an interesting thought that you would have proposed because it seems like a natural thing to do on campuses like that to try to fill in the ground floor yeah and it's getting it's this idea like trying to combine what needs to happen with what would be wonderful if it happened obviously people you know at the lowest end of the economic spectrum of the city are extremely concerned and rightly so about changes to their neighborhoods in the poorest neighborhoods like East New York and elsewhere where all changes even ones that are intended to bring economic benefits or threatening the people who are least able to take care of themselves because they don't know where else to go so the question here will be when is this going to get started ideally we should have a shovel in the ground by 2017 for the East River portion interesting before we finish with New York let's do 57th Street West 57th so I can make sure we've covered the three projects we mentioned and this is actually the shovel is more than in the ground this is going to open by the spring or something like this yes we should start renting out the apartments what is this project it's a leave you may have seen it if you've driven along the West Side Highway this is where 57th Street meets the Hudson River and it we thought of it staying in the subject of love children that's the the sort of the result when you mate a American skyscraper with the density of American skyscraper with the communal space of a Copenhagen courtyard building essentially you get a building that is very asymmetrical because the core jad could quickly become too deep it actually has the same proportions as Central Park only it's 13,000 times smaller so it's kind of a bonsai a Central Park but but basically because it's it's lowered to the height of a handrail in the southwest corner you actually have sunshine and views from the from the courtyard all of those homes that's that frame the courtyard have views over the Hudson River they can see the sunset and it's actually being being built right now this is a photo from recently how much the the developer this is Douglas Durst and how much the input did he happiness I believe this project went through different iterations didn't it actually like yeah it was a winner when I met him they had been trying to rezone the site for quite a while I think they had already spent almost like a decade on the on the side for various elements at some point they were they had actually had approval for building a big data center and then and then 9/11 happened and then a starless explained then people no longer thought it was a good idea to store their data on the island of Manhattan so so like you're like there's so many so many things that the that had sort of been sabotaging it and then finally they came to us with the idea and and Douglas said like why don't you try to look at something like a mid-rise more some of the things you've been doing in Copenhagen and I was of course like very disappointed because I finally get to build on Manhattan and then they want me to do like the Copenhagen building come on but then then we were like going through it we had something that was more like a cored out building but gently tilt it to the Southwest to bring in more light into the quartet so like an early iteration of this and then at some point when we were sort of two weeks from a big meeting with Amanda Burton who is the chair of the Department of City Planning at the time and then Douglas gives me a call and says the distributed mass of the sort of tilted the chord ad it means we have to we have too much staff we need to stand obviously two entrances so basically you just need to push all of the mass towards the east and it was like sort of but then keep everything else you said and that's like typical sort of a so yeah but you know that's but then somehow we came up with this extreme version and and and this is what we're building right now but I'm quite certain that if we would have walked the through the the door on the 49th floor of one Bryant Park at the first meeting with with the design looking like this that would have been the end of the conversation the one who said no but because it kind of happened as you went along I think it's I think it is a quite interesting I mean you have a broader project you done before called the mountain and you obviously want to build buildings that also step up it's it's a kind of mountain envy from a Dane where the tallest point is like what it's like 400 feet I think so listen before we go you know you represent kind of some people have said anyway you know you represent a starchitect 2.0 I don't know how you respond to that idea but talk to me just before we finish about what you think we think architecture is going and what you represent for architecture now and I'll just I'll queer that a little by saying there are those who would say that notion of the architect designing these spectacular buildings which you certainly do is already seeming like something from a different generation so you seem like somebody who is trying to redefine this idea of the architect while retaining much of that identity that people like ramen others have how do you see yourself and how do you see in relation to where architecture is going now I mean I think from the from the starting point we've always been interested in this idea that let's say like maybe 99% of the profession and also of the built environment is made by reliable and rational analytical consultants that do things that are you know functional but but probably also a little predictable and a little boring and then you have like a wild avant-garde that makes like spectacular amazing works of art but they're but they're often also a little unpractical and maybe spectacularly expensive also and I think where we try to position ourselves is in the very very small overlap between the two where we in a way we try to turn a rational and rigorous analysis into the performance of the building into the driving force of the of the architecture so if the if the code scraper as we've also nicknamed that the the real name of the building is via the co-driver is in a way trying to combine the communal space of a courtyard with the density of a skyscraper and in when you're trying to do those things the asymmetry becomes necessary because otherwise you wouldn't get daylight and sunshine into the courtyard and the plants wouldn't grow and it would be a nice place to be so certainly by by putting like a rather rational sort of selection of elements that would be desirable together in a very unlikely combination the the architecture is forced into a seemingly expressive design but it's it purely looks different because it performs different but what is that what is the purpose of designing things that look spectacular or or fun or or eccentric or whatever you want to say what was the what is the use value of that socially speaking I think it's back to the to this idea of the midwife it's like the reason that West through the seven looks the way it does is because otherwise you wouldn't be able to have this social space in the middle of a CD but that's a particular design was not the only rational solution there's a way in which you want to create buildings that are also striking you're not saying what I thought too aggressive which is that there's there's a kind of meaning and joy and pleasure or whatever that one gathers from a building that looks like that as opposed to a lot of the other buildings but I also like one of the things that the in wakers mean we always thought that it was the bringing the courtyard this idea of the big park at the heart of a Manhattan city block that was the main communal agenda for this project but one of the things that I've noticed now when you're standing on on some of the terraces maybe if you can go like three slides back if you're standing on some of the terraces and and you look up some something that I'm going to get out of the chair here one of the interesting things is that when you're standing here or here and you look out you you actually sort of look around and it's like normally when you're inside a high-rise and then you look out at the rest of the city and did you have the sort of know are cliche of the alienated the big city where you don't see the people that are close to you here like you have of course the privacy when you are sitting in your Terrace but when you go to the edge you'll actually look around and you'll meet your neighbors like on this man-made mountainside and I think in that sense much more than the only the only encounter you have the only social encounter you have in a skyscraper is the awkward encounter in the elevator where you're almost too close to each other to to speak but but here like there is this communal aspect that I think is going to accelerate the social interaction in this building and make it a great place to to live and so many other things I want to talk to you about but we should open it up to questions Charles or perhaps you have some questions that Natalie yes and if you have questions feel free to send them to queue at NY Times or we'll take some for the audience we have one actually that came in from David and it came in when you were talking about two World Trade Center in the ass how does this accommodate resiliency and how cities are changing because of climate change because of threats like terrorism how is this different from a building that you would have designed or anyone else would have designed 30 years ago I think like the general notion of resilience in the in the notion of of like weather protection or like it's very much taken care of by the master plan that it is already sort of located at elevated the level I think where where it's different and I think much more urban than the World Trade Center that it replaces was that previously it was sitting on this giant podium that was blocking off all of the continuity of the streets of Manhattan and I think one of the successes of the master plan that replaces it is that all of the streets of lower Manhattan has actually been like tied back together again so it actually becomes a continuous neighborhood and not just like some big weird modern block or suburban block bumped into the downtown Manhattan and I think also again like programmatically the fact that it is not mono-functional in the sense that it is just like this typical extruded skyscraper that duplicates an identical floor plate for the identical phantom client 100 times on the same side but it is literally like very different buildings within the building that can accommodate very different things will ensure a much more lively and vibrant neighborhood than than the financial district that you that you know from the past that may not be the resilience answer you wanted but that's uh it's it's true that the neighborhood is being partly reconstructed would be nice if mothers of those streets had been truly opened and didn't we didn't have so much of the security issues we have there but obviously part of the attempt was to create more of a neighborhood yeah Charles from Caroline a question had come in you're attempting to write vitalize and transform city architecture is there any hope for suburbs where businesses and corporations are also located what are your thoughts on revitalizing the burbs I mean I think very much what we're doing right now with with Google is I think it's kind of interesting it feels like you can say the the corporate headquarter was somehow the main sort of place of experimentation for the American architectural Alan God let's say in the 50s and 60s and then it kind of petered out but there was like this moment where like architects like Gordon bunch shaft and either sodding and they were like bringing to the world the most amazing works of architecture and they were like to accommodate work for for American corporations then that kind of disappeared I think right now we're working on to world trade and then we're working for for Google which is two projects of similar size but in as radically different urban context you can possibly imagine but the Google project so far as I understand is having is running into headwinds in mountain Ville the amount of you because because the community there thinks it's too big right no it was actually the story is that the Mountain View is up zoning in general yeah and every there was a specific amount of extra density that Mountain View was willing to a without to award nod to award in general and then all the companies amount of you could apply for it and Google applied for all of it and and and only got some of it but that was the the the media spin was a massive failure but I think here they just tried to see if they could get it all and and they got the some some so in that sense but I think what we what we did notice when we were looking there is that the the the sheer magnitude of Google in Mountain View in terms of numbers means that they are much more like in like a neighborhood than a building and you can't then just make a scaled up building because then you're going to have like these weird exclusion zones in the middle of the urban issue and therefore Google has made like a very conscious stance to become a neighborhood and also for everybody in math for everybody in Mountain View like parts of that you know the project consists of these transparent canopies that cover a more village like conglomeration of workspaces but parts of those canopies you can actually walk under there's this green loop that travels underneath the canopy which is for the public and we also making sure to integrate retail and ideally also as much housing as possible like on the campus like Google wants as much housing as possible but they're actually the environmentalists afraid that the people moving in there might have pits that could disturb some of the wildlife so you have you have all kinds of scales of concerns that you somehow have to marry and a Mentalist they're such but that's all I got like it would be terrible if people would move in and have a dog let's take one more question from the audience is it does anyone ma'am if I think we have a microphone if you would mind bring it down Thanks sure hi Sasuke hi well I think you're doing great work so let me ask you a slightly provocative question what was the biggest mess you ever wound up doing well you really had to sort of struggle out of it or it never happened maybe it never happened – it's good question I need an answer no like I'm sure I'm trying to find a good estimate I mean I must say like almost any project is is or slowly becomes a mess and I think in that sense and I think also that in that sense when you finally inaugurate a building like any building it's a very traumatic moment because all you see is the sum of all the failures like every corner is like some kind of a lost battle or like some undesirable compromise or but but but then you know once once the hurt heals you you also notice all the things that went well right and I and I think in that sense almost there's also like sometimes people say yeah so like now what are you going to do now like you did everything like that what I think what do you mean like we haven't even started showing the world what we can really do if we really get the you know the the confidence and the resources and so I think that sense it is very much like a snowball I I do want to say that probably the most complex thing we have worked on paradoxically is is the two World Trade Center it's like politically also I got all of the the Heritage and the sort of symbolism the emotional I've learned to say baggage not luggage it comes with and also the fact eyes itself that it sits on eleven subway lines and a service road and a power plant and all these things so I think and and the fact that they had already placed the columns and the course based on another design so I think there but I think in a way I think in architecture maybe to give you a real answer to your question I think in act your biggest problem is that it's very hard to find any reason to go beyond the standard solution and the standard solution is often becomes the standard solution because it's such a good solution to what you're trying to do but the problem of it is that it's often looking at a single criteria and a typical standard solution in architecture is a kind of very Bob Moses New York public housing so that you know you know you need X amount of units they need east-west exposure they need a minimum distance between them there's a certain height that's good for the elevator runs and the amount of fire stairs so then you have like a slab it's oriented like this and then the next lab comes here and then in the next lab comes here but it says nothing about diversity of household types it says nothing about programmatic diverse is you create a lively neighborhood it says nothing about the life between the buildings or the the prevailing winds or like there's so many other factors you can take into consideration and I think the the secret recipe that we have developed that allows us to go beyond the standard solution is that we don't try just provide X amount of real estate with a within a certain density we actually try to put pile on more demands we also need to create a nice social space at the heart of the city block we also need to ensure sunlight exposure outdoor spaces all kinds of things and as you sort of pile on these demands suddenly the standard solution doesn't work any longer and you force the architecture into something different I like to use the the comparison to a game of Twister is that when you start the game you know you just stand there in a standard pose because it's not so difficult but then as you pile on demands you find yourself with your hand and your feet and with your face butting up against body parts of family members and and the game becomes acrobatic and enjoyable and it's in a way the same in architecture by piling on more demands by actually making the axial problem more difficult to solve we escaped the straitjacket of the standard solution and we come up with something that answers a more difficult problem okay thank you so much that was so okay so got an effort all of you let me let me say thank you so much for being here I want to invite you out to have cocktails outside and tell you that breakfast is at 8:00 tomorrow morning and we start seating everybody here at 8:30 so we look forward to seeing you in the morning we have a wonderful long day thanks

40 thoughts on “Cities for Tomorrow 2015 – Social Infrastructure with Bjarke Ingels

  • Instead of getting the information out, the interviewer spends more time correcting him on his knowledge about NYC. The interview is meant to get to talk about the projects not to correct opinions or historical facts.

  • I see Ingels idea on gardens on the 2WTC, but I cannot get my head around that design. It just looks really ugly to me.

  • Bjarke is a brilliant mind and innovator, I would love to work with him and learn as much as he's willing to teach. Class act as well.

  • What Kimmelman and most city planners miss is the cities in general and high density built environments like New York are harmful to the human condition. For 99.997% of our existence we have lived in open space.

  • The comments here divide between Ingels' fan boys and those more critical of his firms work. What this firm is doing is amazing and Ingels is the perfect spokesman for it. The guy has lots of charisma and knows what he is talking about. That said Kimmelman is a respected journalist asking valid questions. BIG (Ingels firm) is playing with a lot of public money and is only fair they put forward good arguments for their designs. Glorifying BIG won't make them better and giving soft balls to Ingels won't make for a good interview. Great job both the journalist and the architect on a very informative session.

  • I understand some o the hate directed at Kimmelman here, but to be fair I really enjoyed seeing Bjarke being held to account and put on the spot a little bit.

  • Wow. This is an impressive level of antagonism from the interviewer. Of course one needs to ask tough questions, but the side comments, ways he injects his opinion in such a way that he gets the last word…. it's shockingly passive aggressive. The nervous laughter from the audience and the way Ingels had to constantly manage Kimmelman made it uncomfortable to watch and a less revealing interview than it otherwise could have been.

  • "have you ever been to a garden of a building bjarke?" Bjarke lives in a 2000-something sqm condo in brooklyn with 3 garden.s Yeah idiot i think he knows.

  • People complain about how bad the interview is.
    The interviewer while he may be 'bad' people give this asshole bjarke too much fucking credit for who he is.

    He's a fucking babbler, just like Musk is a fucking con artist babbler.

    People are too easily brain washed in to believing these socalled 'innovators' bring something useful to the table.

    They make their fortunes in bullshitting and conning people in to working for them.

    'For every question there is a universal answer' Really?!?!?! Really?!! Wow wow wow. And people think that is 'brilliant'?!?
    Before any one tells me 'its the interviewer stupid' its fucking bullshit, Byark is babbling. When someone really takes a closer look and starts scrutinizing this guy they realize he is full of shit.

  • Best interview I've ever seen made to Bjarke Ingels! This is a true critic questioning the principles and solutions of BIG's work and not just playing along to fuel BIG's self-marketing speech. BIG masters the art of soundbites and social media, they use the diagram to justify their design concepts and solutions often with utter disregard for functionality, comfort and constructability. It is undeniable there's brilliance in their team, I've worked with BIG's team, unfortunately the lack of substance of their architectural discourse is coated with flashy graphics and efficient marketing scripts.

  • He doesn't let him get away with his scripted information, or what he has planned to say. He's getting to the actual knowledge of the projects. It really pushes Bjarke's limits to open up with more information. Yes he does it in a jerking manor, but this might have been necessary to get more out of the conversation. As you can see, Bjarke Just rambles and as an experienced journalist, He's slowing him down by asking questions inside of a question. 28:00 on He doesn't interfere because its all information that hasn't been said before in other presentations. This is actually a fantastic interview that shows that this great architect isn't perfect. That being said, I still find BIG a fascinating group to study for architectural relevance.

  • Green sustainable 100% recyclable cities of tomorrow, with self food production and max. limiting mobility of products which destroy air of the Earth.

  • I never knew a about Micheal Kimmelman and now I hate him. But its true its good journalism but is it really necessary?

  • Haha. I too first thought that the interviewer was quite arrogant but then I realised that he is actually not letting Bjarke get away with ignoring the lack of beauty and practicality in his building. As much as I love Bjarke and the ingenuity he puts into his architecture he doesn't necessarily make the most beautiful buildings that people have to live around. The interviewer is right, having a balcony 80 floors up does not sound practical. I know the Danish town planner Jane Gehl, who Bjarke is friends with does not find Bjarke's buildings friendly to people living around them. The journalist is actually really challenging him rather than flattering him which is what I think journalists are meant to do.

  • After watching this interview my respect for Bjarke has grown ten fold. I mean even a child could tell that the interviewer was a dumb ass and all he wanted to do was demean Bjarke. But Bjarke answered all the questions maintaining composure, with dignity and showed respect to the idiotic guy in front of him.
    Hes not just a genius but he has this kind of humbleness and way with words which is really remarkable…

  • The old guy is like a child who thinks he knows everything in his own head after getting an A in a general achievement test. Small mind.

  • Knowledge is truly power. Same with modesty. This is why even though that old guy acts arrogant and smart towards Bjarke, Bjarke looks like the person with the real knowledge.

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