BIG's Peaks

Yesterday Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) unveiled plans for its much anticipated proposal for Durst Fetner Residential on West 57th Street and the West Side Highway in Manhattan. There is coverage of the project all over the place, most thoroughly by Justin Davidson in New York Magazine, so I won't go into detail on the design here.

[W57 - West 57th Street]

But I must extend Ingel's question to Durst after the latter spoke about green buildings in Copenhagen, "Why do all your buildings look like buildings?" with "Mr. Ingels, why do all your buildings look like mountains?" Some examples:

[ABU2 - Khalifa Park]

[AMF - Amagerforbrændingen]

[BAT - Faste Batteri]

[8 - 8Tallet]

[FØR - Førde Rådhus Kvarter]

[HOA - Holstebro Handball Arena]

[HOT - Stavanger Hotel]

[LDK - Little Denmark]

[MER - Dolphinarium and Wellnesscenter]

[MTN - Mountain Dwellings]

[POL - Hambrogsgade Office Building]

[SKI - Trysil Ski Resort]

[TØJ - Tøjhus Mixed-Use]

[VIB1 - Vibenhus Office Building]

[WVWS - World Village of Women Sports]

[ZIR - Zira Island Masterplan]

[Even BIG's web page is mountain-like!]

Keep in mind the above is a small sampling of a larger and more varied output, but it's clear the Danish architect has a predilection for buildings that terrace or angle as they rise; in some cases they are artificial mountains in their own right. Without taking my rhetorical question too far, in just about all of the projects the reasons behind the forms are clear (BIG uses diagrams that show a step-by-step evolution of their preliminary designs and massings), and a common factor is sunlight. In Manhattan catering to the sun would be close to impossible, but a site overlooking Hudson River Park allows an unimpeded southwesterly sun to shape the project. A mountain for Manhattan.


  1. The moost interesting thinks in this case is drawings... what is plans and sections.... Perfect lightings for cladding and space near by... but inside?... I belive to BIG's profesional status... but just interesting about modern trolls life...

  2. In many cases the slope appears to accommodate plant life, which could be good for at least a couple of reasons. Of course, if the footprint were smaller there might be more room for plant life on Earth's surface, but still.

  3. Yeah, those mountains... it's totally time to discover a new typology that's a bit less, how do we say... mountainous. But at least NYC has finally hit the BIG wave- bringing a hint of DK to the States.

  4. Beautiful design ideas. As a fellow designer I always appreciate out of the ordinary ideas. The buildings themselves each seem to tell their own story. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Another starchitect is born. Rather than coming up with new ideas, it seems BIG just recycles an iconic form and says "HERE, the mountain represents _____!" Like Liebeskind's crystals, which represent everything from fracturing of Jewish history in eastern europe to the multifaceted life of contemporary Las Vegas retail.

  6. I would like ot see the Dolphinarium actually completed.

    mark thuesen

  7. I don't understand why you don't mention his previous office, PLOT. I would argue that many of these projects were inspired if not originated and developed from his initial architecture venture with his former partner Julien de Smedt during their 5 year stint together as PLOT.

  8. sunset - That's an oversight on my part. Regardless it's hard for me to say if more than the Mountain Dwellings can be attributed to PLOT. I think because that is completed the authorship is all over the place; I didn't go through the rest one by one to see if they originated in the short time of PLOT. Yet even if others were inspired by that partnership, I'm inclined to think that their projects exhibiting "the peaks" would be mostly the hand of Ingels.


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