Mark Lamster | Essays

Bjarke Ingels Has Something to Sell

Bjarke Ingels is the golden retriever of contemporary architecture. He's adorable, he's full of energy, he always seems to be pushing up against your leg, begging you to toss his stick so he can show you what he can do. 

Ingels's relentless positivism is not just a personality trait, it's an operating philosophy. As I write in a review of his recent monograph, Yes Is More, for Ingels, "every problem is an opportunity, every constraint a solution in disguise.  Ingels’s particular gift is what management consultants call 'getting to yes.' ”

He's been getting there quite often of late, and the projects he would build seem to be ever more ambitious. I don't think we've seen an architect so committed to the megaproject since the late 1960s. He certainly has a sense of history, and his place in it: in the opening pages of the book, he positions himself at the end of a teleological sequence that moves from Mies to Venturi to Johnson to Koolhaas to Obama. It concludes with the image, of Ingels and his Chesire grin, you see above. 

Ingels is selling not just his own work, but his way of working in the world, a Koolhaasian conflation of pragmatism and idealism. It is proactive and empowering, and when delivered with his optimistic pitch, it is proving hard to resist.

Comments [5]

This is what passes for acceptable writing on the DesignObserver blog? A promotional blurb for a half baked book?

Has anyone heard Rihanna? She's pretty great too! If we're just saying the names of stuff we like.

So architects are optimistic-positivists. Tell us something we don't know.

For example, tell us about how positivity can be harmful. Look at the corporate world. When hundreds of thousands of decent full-time jobs are cut or exported abroad, the unemployed are told "don't worry. this is a good thing. chin up. cheer up. only your positive attitude can get you out of this one. oh, and, no matter what you do, don't complain!"

What a great way to keep people down, and keep dissent off the table.
C. Tate

i am generally reluctant to respond to comments but suffice it for me to say here that the suggestion that i am some kind of lap-dog, blind enthusiast for bjarke ingels is ridiculous, and so much should be evident to anyone who takes the time to read the full review to which this piece is linked.

funny, i thought the comments here would berate me for being condescending.

sometimes you can't win for losing.
mark lamster

good to see a positive review of a positive architect, self proclaimed or not.
if you have the resources to put together a book about yourself, manifesto and product, why not. a well tried and trodden path.
extent of completed work on the ground maybe slight, so what. nothing new there.
positive ambition should be respected and enjoyed

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