Bjarke Ingels, founder of the architectural group, BIG, that won the Kimball Art Center's architectural design contest in 2012, responded by email to The Park Record's questions about the revised design.
Park Record: The previous design was drawn from the Coalition Mine Building, What inspired the most recent design, was there something specific that triggered this shape?
Bjarke Ingels: We have attempted to create a design that draws from the sloping topography of Main Street and the encounter between the modern functionalist architecture of the Kimball Garage and the regional vernacular style of the mountain architecture. Our competition design evoked the "ghost" of the Coalition Mine Building, our new design is proportioned to remain within the constraints of the existing rules and regulations. The encounter between horizontal floors and the sloping site has created some really interesting spaces within the museum as well as created its external character -- a simple volume lifted to reveal the life and art within.
PR: How do you feel about the Kimball Art Center's decision not to pursue the design that won the competition?
Bjarke Ingels: We have worked with Kimball long and hard to find a way to create a constructive dialog with the city in the hopes that we could realize the intentions of the competition design. Once it became clear that we needed to stay within the existing regulations we simply had no other alternative than to take a step back and deal with the new situation. The Kimball and BIG did the only thing possible, and now I think we have arrived at a design that can be just as striking a contribution to Part City's streetscape, if only a lot more intimate in scale than our first sketches.
PR: Did you consider pulling out of the project in Park City when the original design was rejected?
Bjarke Ingels: Robin Marrouche and her entire board are a really passionate and devoted client and the Kimball plays a key role in the cultural landscape of Park City at a crucial location at the heart of the town. A great client for a great program on a great spot in a great city. Of course we can get something incredible out of such a setup even if we have had to start over as a necessary part of the process.
PR: What are some of your company's most recent projects?
BI: We are equally busy on both sides of the Atlantic right now. We have been selected to do a master plan for the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., attempting to improve the cultural facilities around some of the most historically precious parts of the Smithsonian campus. Meanwhile, we have just won the competition for the "City of the Human Body" a science center and museum in Montpelier in southern France that celebrates all aspects of the human body ranging from medicine and anatomy to dance, sculpture and other artistic expressions.