Over the next two weeks, Next City will unroll short profiles of 77 people, places and ideas that have changed cities this year. Together, they make up our 2012 Disruption Index. Forefront subscribers can download the Index in full as a PDF, complete with beautiful designs and graphics by Danni Sinisi. Readers who make a $75 donation to Next City will have a full-color printed copy of the Index mailed to them.
If you want to know how to get a heart racing on Valentines Day, ask the Bjarke Ingels Group. This past February 14, the international architecture and design group accomplished just that feat in a way that bodes well for the future of public art and, well, the romance of place.
BIG installed a big red heart in a cube-like matrix of translucent glass rods right in the center of Times Square. The heart beat and glowed bright red through the clear tubes, creating a 10-foot-tall symbol of love. The display was also responsive, with an attached kiosk where the touch of a person would cause the heart to beat faster. The more people touching the sensor, the faster the heart would beat. Though it only stuck around for the month of February, this installation exemplifies the kind of work BIG creates: That which encourages and celebrates the public interaction that makes cities great.
BIG was born out of the vision of the Danish architect that founded the company in 2005, after cutting his teeth working for Rem Koolhaas at the Office for Metropolitan Architecture in Rotterdam. And as BIG’s motto of “Yes is More” indicates, the architect shares Koolhaas’s eye for bold spatial experimentation. Where they differ is in their voice; BIG is a bit friendlier, a little more humane. At a time when cities are experiencing unprecedented growth and change, art with a little heart seems like a good, and even radical, idea.
Nate Berg is a writer and journalist covering cities, architecture and urban planning. Nate’s work has been published in a wide variety of publications, including the New York Times, NPR, Wired, Metropolis, Fast Company, Dwell, Architect, the Christian Science Monitor, LA Weekly and many others. He is a former staff writer at The Atlantic Cities and was previously an assistant editor at Planetizen.