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Bjarke Ingels To Build Science Center That Gives Geeks Fresh Air

Another big win for rising starchitect Bjarke Ingels: His studio announced last week that it won a commission to design a mammoth new research center for a science and medical school in central Paris.

Working with Paris architects OFF, Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) beat out MVRDV, Mario Cucinella, and others in a competition for the 161,500-square-foot Paris PARC. The facility will gather under one roof both entrepreneurs and academic scholars from the Sorbonne’s prestigious Pierre et Marie Curie Université.

The renderings show a big, glassy box that’s been twisted, tweaked, and dented as if someone took a huge mallet to it. A sly metaphor for the warped minds of all the brainiacs who’ll work there? BIG has had stranger ideas.

But the official explanation is this: Paris PARC will be smushed between a host of other university buildings (including Jean Nouvel’s sleek Institut du Monde Arabe), making it difficult to gain access to light and fresh air. By inflating and compressing the sides of a rectangular volume and hollowing out the middle, the architects create little pockets that welcome light and air into the building’s innermost recesses. A sloping green roof will be open to the public, and the top floors will look out onto Notre Dame and the rest of Paris’s spectacular skyline. Here’s hoping the nerds look up from their microscopes now and again to enjoy the view.

[Images courtesy of BIG]SL