Since his career began two decades ago, Danish architect Bjarke Ingels has become one of the most celebrated innovators in his field. Born in 1974 in Copenhagen, Ingels began his architecture studies at the age of 18, when he enrolled in the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, hoping to one day work as an illustrator. However, he soon caught the architecture bug, studying the art at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia before returning to his native country just before the turn of the millennium.
During his early years in the field, Ingels got a running start, working with celebrated Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas for three years at Rotterdam’s Office for Metropolitan Architecture. Following his early training under Koolhaas, Ingels teamed up with architect Julien de Smedt to form their own architectural firm, dubbed PLOT. While PLOT only lasted four years, splitting in 2005, the two architects collaborated on a number of notable projects across Copenhagen during that time, including the VM Houses, Islands Brygge Harbour Bath, and the Maritime Youth House.
Just after the founders of PLOT went their separate ways, Ingels ventured out on his own, forming Bjarke Ingels Group, also known as BIG, in January of the following year. The same year, BIG commenced work on the Mountain Dwellings in Copenhagen’s Ørestad district, a multi-residence building and garage on the site of the VM Houses previously built by PLOT. Thanks to their unique sculptural design, which serves to maximize views from inside each home, BIG was awarded a Forum AID Award, a World Architecture Festival Housing Award, and the MIPIM Residential Development Award for their work on the unique residential project. Ingels’ career continued to thrive throughout Copenhagen during the early- to mid-2000s, with projects like residential building 8 House and the Danish Maritime Museum under his belt.
It was in 2009 that Ingels’ career began to flourish well beyond the borders of his native country, however. Ingels’ work on the National Library of Kazakhstan, the striking Tilting Building in Guiyang, China, the Faroe Islands Education Center, and the new Google Headquarters in California have made him a star both in Denmark and beyond, and it’s clear that his newfound international acclaim is paying off. BIG has recently become a major player in the New York architectural scene, chosen to helm the design of Two World Trade Center, a tower that will be erected where one of the Twin Towers once stood, and the multi-use Hudson Yards project being constructed on Manhattan’s West Side. However, his most buzzed-about project in New York may be The XI, a pair of twisting towers taking shape next to the High Line. The two towers, each tilted in a way that makes them resemble two partners dancing, will soon be West Chelsea’s tallest buildings, standing a respective 300 and 400 feet tall upon completion. However, it’s not just the travertine-clad towers’ striking sculptural form that has New Yorkers talking: the buildings also offer stunning views of iconic New York sights from the Hudson River to the Empire State Building.
In just two decades, Bjarke Ingels has gone from a student of architecture to a master of his craft. Across the globe, this visionary architect’s influence can be felt, his stunning buildings coming to define the shape of the cities they call home.