Why Architect Bjarke Ingels Risks Reputation With Pigskins Deal

Washington City Paper, Jan. 7, 2016

For the past couple of years, Washington has been getting to know architect Bjarke Ingels. The photogenic, 41-year-old Dane who leads the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) is now a global design star, supervising two huge projects in New York: W57, a pyramid of apartments being built in Midtown, and a skyscraper at Two World Trade Center. His firm is also working on a new campus for Google in Silicon Valley.

Busy as he’s been elsewhere, Ingels has kept coming back to D.C. In 2014 he gave us the BIG Maze at the National Building Museum, and soon after, the excellent exhibition “Hot to Cold,” also at the NBM. Right before that show opened, a clearer rationale emerged for all the time spent in Washington: The Smithsonian announced it had selected BIG for a $2 billion renovation of the Mall’s south campus.

That seemed to be the whole story—architectural whiz kid takes Washington, and the world. But yesterday, the Sports Business Journal broke some BIG (sorry) news: The firm will design a new stadium for Washington’s NFL team, probably in partnership with a firm specializing in sports-architecture. The ’Skins haven’t announced a location for their new facility, but are expected to reveal plans later this month.

If the report is accurate, it’s a glaring misstep by Ingels and BIG. The Pigskins are one of the most loathed franchises in the NFL, and Dan Snyder is the most hated owner in the league, maybe “in sports, period,” according to Sports Illustrated. A major reason is his adamant refusal to change a team name which many, many people say is racist. Let’s not let making the playoffs gloss over this.

Full story