BIG and Small

Glen Small and Bjarke Ingels: vive la difference. Architect Glen Small writes about Bjarke Ingels in this article. The comparison is interesting: Both are full of energy and ideas. Their architectural strategies have a number of things in common. But they could not be more different from a business perspective.

The Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has a stream of prestigious commissions, and a portfolio of significant projects in many parts of the world. Glen, in contrast, has a lot of breakthrough ideas, but much less built work.

There’s no answer to the question of which is the right approach. At the end of the day, some choose to produce ideas, others choose to produce product. Ideas can be very influential (think Adolf Loos), and so can product (Frank Lloyd Wright). It’s probably more comfortable to make a living out of product than ideas, and Glen can attest to that.

Interestingly, both are published authors, I think because architects are motivated often by ideas, and a wish to share their vision with the world. BIG’s comic book Yes is More is a graphic exercise that is entertaining, easy to read, and it takes you through the ups and downs of many of his projects, some built, and some unbuilt.

Glen’s publication is in the form of a blog, now with over 100 posts, at www.smallatlarge.com. In the interests of full disclosure, I should tell you that I help Glen publish his blog, but the attitude and insights are his alone. Glen offers a no-holds-barred, roller-coaster ride through the life of an architect of unparalleled creativity and vision, who nevertheless struggles to bring his work to fruition.

Ideas are beguiling, but there are few things more satisfying than seeing a tangible project come together, and to stand in front of the work of one’s hands and heart.

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