Bjarke Ingels is the first to admit that his portfolio of work doesn't exactly hark back to Philly starchitect Louis Kahn. In fact, the one coincidence Ingels can point to is that he was born in 1974, the same year that Kahn died. He said as much when he was presented with the Louis I. Kahn Memorial Award last night in Philadelphia.
"I wouldn't say that my work is linear of Louis'," Ingels said, "but I think that he rediscovered symbolism and designed super-functional architecture that's been lost and has been re-created by pragmatism."
Ingels, the Danish architect who has offices in Copenhagen and New York, has described his approach to architecture as "pragmatic utopianism."
At the awards ceremony, Ingels spoke for over an hour about the work of Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), from the ski slope on top of a power plant in Denmark to the Two World Trade Center tower in New York.
He also shed some light on the design process of the 1200 Intrepid, his first project in Philadelphia that's expected to finish construction later this month.
Here are a few interesting sound bites (and Instagram photos!) about his first Philly project from his talk, hosted by the Center for Architecture and Design, including whether or not there are other BIG projects coming to Philly any time soon:
On the Navy Yard: "The Navy Yard has these existing structures that were not designed to be proportional to people, but they're amazing for accommodating people."
On designing the 1200 Intrepid: "When we were coming up with the design, there was a clear place taking form already—the Navy Yard master plan was already in place. We thought we should inherit as much from the park, designed by Field Operations, as much as possible.
"We thought the circular park would be sort of a strong gesture and influence the building, so we designed the road in front of the building to curve with it. The white prefabricated concrete panels are sort of like the bracelets of a watch, and they tilt so that it creates a graceful, organic space and inviting cavelike canopy."
On the periscope at 1200 Intrepid: "With the lobby we wanted to design a sort of maritime tunnel, so we put in this periscope at the top that allows you to see the ships around the Navy Yard."
On future Philly-based BIG projects: Folks at Liberty Property Trust, the main developer at the Navy Yard, said, "We're exploring conceptual projects with Bjarke at the Navy Yard."
And although it was more of a joke than anything else, Ingels shared his project of converting shipping containers into student housing—on water. "They're $750 a month to rent, so if Philly needs any student housing, you know who to call."
Actually, that sounds like a pretty good idea for the Navy Yard, doesn't it?
- Bjarke Ingels' 1200 Intrepid is Coming Along Nicely [Curbed Philly]
- The Navy Yard is booming, so when can people live there? [Curbed Philly]
- Louis Kahn Coverage [Curbed Philly]