Craig Dykers is Senior Partner and Director of Snøhetta, the Oslo and New York-based architecture and landscape architecture firm. Mr. Dykers has been responsible for the distinguished National Library of Alexandria and the National September 11 Memorial Museum Pavilion currently under construction. Snøhetta is currently working on the expansion of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and is leading the design team of the Times Square Reconstruction Project.
On July 27, the Forum hosted Bjarke Ingels (BIG) and Craig Dykers (Snøhetta) to discuss new visions for the practice of urban design, with Monica Ponce de Leon (Taubman College) moderating the conversation. In their recent work, both architects demonstrated a dedication to working with constituents to shape the form of new public spaces. Mr. Dykers presented a university in The Gambia with building forms closely modeled on the form of the nearby villages and a master plan for Guatemala filled with benches completed by local artisans. Mr. Ingels discussed a new social housing project with seating and signs from over sixty nations, representing the same number of nationalities living in the area.
Although the architects may have had similar aspirations to reform public participation in the design process, their greatest deviation was the scale of their ambitions. Mr. Dykers opined that “the best laid plans never get made,” referring to a successful Oslo project where the master plan was atypically designed around an architectural object. Yet Mr. Ingels dared to dream as he presented an extensive scheme to link Swedish and Danish towns using high-speed rail.
Bjarke Ingels is Founding Principal of the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), a Copenhagen and New York-based group of architects and urbanists. Mr. Ingels has worked on such celebrated projects as the Danish Pavilion of the Shanghai World EXPO, the Mountain Dwellings of Ørestad, and the 8 Tallet Apartment Complex in Copenhagen. BIG recently announced its first New York project, West 57th Street, a residential tower on Manhattan’s West Side.
Monica Ponce de Leon was named Dean and Eliel Saarinen Collegiate Professor of Architecture and Urban Planning of the University of the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning in 2008. In 1991, she co-founded Office dA with Nader Tehrani and has recently launched her own design practice. Her practice has been responsible for such celebrated projects as the Helios House in Los Angeles, the Macallen Building in Boston, and the Fleet Library at RISD.