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May 2, 2012

Architect Bjarke Ingels, founder of the world-beating firm BIG, was in San Francisco this week to show off the design for his latest project, an addition to the Kimball Art Center in Park City, Utah (see all five finalists in the competition here). Adobe founder and part-time Deer Valley–resident John Warnock and his wife Marva threw a small party at Adobe HQ to fete the 37-year-old Danish architect, and he dazzled the crowd as he whizzed through his impressive body of work and spelled out what his building means for the Kimball. I met him yesterday morning in the lobby of the InterContinental Mark Hopkins hotel for a quick chat.

Architect Bjarke Ingels BIG

So you're taking a trip down to Google while you're here in San Francisco. What's cooking with them?
I dunno. We've been "dating" a little bit. I've been running into a lot of Google people over the last few years, but we'll see what happens. It would be nice if it all ended in a building. Google is a company that's so much about data-driven design—about making tons of data available in an intuitive way. It would be such a blatantly obvious hook-up to work with them. I know the campus has this very warehouselike, playful work environment but it would be great to try to take that to the next level.
Any housing coming from BIG?
Nothing in the realm of private residences. That's the big gaping hole in our architectural practice. I'd love to do one, but it takes a disproportionate amount of your time to do it right. It would have to be for a couple who really wants to do it.
I seem to get an email every other week about BIG winning some new grand civic design competition. How many buildings have you actually completed?
Ten.
And how many have you got on the boards?
I don't know—maybe 20 or 30.
Does that make you feel like you're living in the future, all that work ahead of you?
That's how it is when you're an architect. We're doing a project for the Rockefeller family in New York that breaks ground next month and won't be finished for six years. I'll be 43. We're doing a maritime museum in Copenhagen that we won the commission for in 2007. It will be done in two years. Architecture takes a lot of patience. It's a gentleman's sport.

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