Bjarke Ingels’s spectacular mosque design for the Muslims of Copenhagen earned him death threats from a right-wing politician. His hijacking of the city’s most famous statue to preside over his design for the Danish pavilion at Shanghai’s World Expo wasn’t too popular either. But this young Danish architect, 36, whose firm BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) is bigger on ideas than size, is willing to challenge the sacred cows of his profession–and his countrymen. His goal is to steer his firm between two extremes that he thinks dominate the industry: the naively utopian and the petrifyingly practical. “BIG,” he says, “operates in the fertile overlap between the two: a pragmatic utopianism that seeks to create architecture that is socially, economically, and environmentally perfect.”
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