Bjarke Ingels, founder of the architectural firm Bjarke Ingels Group, thinks he can change the NFL. After news leaked this month that his firm, known as BIG, has been tapped to design a new stadium for the Washington Redskins — Ingels not only defended his new client, he also waxed poetic about the power of sport to change society. And he sounded almost utopian in his confidence that smart design could push that evolution forward: “Nothing excites me more than to take active part in the evolution of that sport and its facilities to make football more exciting, more engaging, more inspiring and more safe in the future.”
To understand how strange this pairing of client and architect is, you have to contemplate two things: the deeply embedded social progressivism that has become the standard worldview of international architectural firms such as BIG; and organizations such as the NFL, a private club for 1 percenters that bullies municipalities and treats its own players’ health with indifference.
Can this marriage last? Is BIG motivated by naivete or cynicism? The answer to this last concern matters deeply in Washington, because of BIG’s other major local client: the Smithsonian Institution. […]