HOT TO COLD: an odyssey of architectural adaptation

January 24, 2015–August 30, 2015

HOT TO COLD is obligatory for anyone who cares about architecture and museums.”—The Washington Post

HOT TO COLD installation in the Great Hall, featuring a model of New York City’s West 57. Photo by Matt Carbone.

On the heels of its summer blockbuster BIG Maze, the international design firm BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) returns to the National Building Museum with a behind-the-scenes look at its creative process. The exhibition, HOT TO COLD: an odyssey of architectural adaptation, takes visitors from the hottest to the coldest parts of our planet and explores how BIG’s design solutions are shaped by their cultural and climatic contexts. More than 60 three-dimensional models will be suspended at the second-floor balconies of the Museum’s historic Great Hall in an unprecedented use of this public space.

Founded in 2005 by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, BIG has taken the world by storm with its seductive, sustainable, and community-driven designs. Ingels, named by WSJ Magazine in 2011 as Innovator of the Year in Architecture, has coined the phrase “hedonistic sustainability” to reflect his philosophy that environmentally responsible buildings and neighborhoods need not be defined by pain and sacrifice. Ingels says that architecture is not just about decorating a box, but also about reconfiguring things for the better. He explains, “If we’re extremely successful we can maybe build 50 structures in our life span. But if we can make something that inspires others, it might be the beginning of a new species that can evolve and migrate, and we can make a much more substantial impact on the world we play a role in creating.”

BIG’s projects are currently taking shape from Copenhagen to Manhattan, from Shenzhen to Paris, and soon in Calgary and Vancouver. Now, with a major part of the practice located in New York—and a major stake in Washington, D.C.’s infrastructure as the designer of a $2 billion National Mall and Smithsonian refurbishment—a BIG influence on American architecture and urbanism has begun.

HOT TO COLD premieres 20 of the studio’s latest projects, interpreted through Iwan Baan’s masterful photography of BIG’s built work, films by Ila Bêka and Louise Lemoine, and the Grammy Award-winning graphic artist Stefan Sagmeister’s design for the accompanying catalog by Taschen.

HOT TO COLD installation, with models hanging from the third floor into the second floor arcades. Photo by Matt Carbone.

Start your visit on the ground floor, with a stop at the firm’s enormous model for a new Danish LEGO museum made (made of LEGO bricks of course!). On the second floor, follow the path around the entire balcony to explore all the firm’s projects, organized by hottest to the coldest parts of our planet and showcasing how BIG’s solutions are shaped by cultural and climatic contexts.

Read our complete staff-recommended walkthrough to get the most out of your vist.


Realdania  National Endowment for the Arts Danish Ministry
Durst Organization Howard Hughes Corporation Logo  Junckers logo

Terra Group

Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts  Graphisoft
The Third Fate Queen of Denmark and HRH Prince Henrik Foundation Rose Rock Group
Albany Arcadis Fritz Hansen
Furniture from Scandinavia by Annette Rachlin Georg Jensen Louis Poulsen
Ramboll SAS Cargo Thornton Tomasetti
AIAIAI HAY  Visit Denmark
Carlsberg  Holcim

HOT TO COLD: an odyssey of architectural adaptation
is generously sponsored by RealdaniaNational Endowment for the Arts, Danish Agency for CultureThe Durst OrganizationHoward Hughes Corporation, JunckersTerra Groupthe Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine ArtsGraphisoftThe Third FateQueen of Denmark and HRH Prince Henrik’s FoundationRose Rock GroupAlbanyArcadisFritz HansenFurniture from Scandinavia by Annette RachlinGeorg JensenLouis PoulsenRambollSASThornton TomasettiAIAIAIFritz Hansen, LEGO, HAY, Visit Denmark, Carlsberg, and Holcim. Additional gratitude to the Embassy of Denmark for its assistance and support.