When Bjarke Ingels set out to create the fourth and final skyscraper at the reborn World Trade Center earlier this year, he faced the same dilemma that has burdened every architect who has ventured onto New York's most hallowed and expensive construction site. Would he design a stately tower, respectful of the history of the property, where some 3,000 people died in 2001? Or would Ingels, a brash Danish prodigy, follow his instincts and steer the building in a more adventurous direction—and risk running into the controversy that has dashed the ambitions of many a World Trade Center architect before him?
Not surprisingly, Ingels—the founder of the firm BIG and the author of a book called Yes Is More—decided his skyscraper could be both things at once.
"The architecture becomes a solution to an almost unsolvable puzzle," Ingels told me one recent morning. After a secretive design process code-named Project Gotham, the architect was finally ready to talk publicly about his building, which is slated to become the new headquarters of Rupert Murdoch's media companies, 21st Century Fox and News Corp. A tentative lease deal was signed last week, and the first renderings were released today to WIRED.