ULI NY took “Five Minutes With…” BIG Partner and Head of Business Development, Kai-Uwe Bergmann. He talks about NYC architecture, design, and VIA 57 West – a finalist in the Housing category for the Awards for Excellence.
Who was the most influential person who left a mark on your career and what was the best advice he or she gave you?
I believe this is not so much an architect than an artist – Dale Chihuly – who taught me to relentlessly experiment and to believe in oneself but also to see the potential in others and to empower them with those same sensibilities. I feel his teachings and mannerisms in much of what I do at BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group – in creating a culture that empowers all those around you to be the very best.
What is your favorite building in New York that isn’t one of yours and why?
Van Alen’s Chrysler Building has to be one of the most elegant and graceful highrises ever built. The late 1920s to 1930s was such a productive period for beautiful highrises like the Rockefeller Center and the Empire States Building which also gave us gardens in the sky and public terraces at the top of these buildings. More recently I think Dattner + WXY’s Salt Shed on the West Side is a perfect illustration of social infrastructure and how the city can be a client that strives for the very best in design.
What makes you proudest of your ULI NY Awards finalist?
That a typology such as residential architecture can still inspire and incite as much innovation through the four finalists this year as any civic piece of infrastructure or cultural palace. New York City is proving to be an international hotbed of residential rethinking from micro-units to providing equity in housing options to rethinking what highrise residential really means.