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Philip Cheung
By Bjarke Ingels
February 17, 2021 6:55 AM EST

There’s a myth that to succeed you need to be an a–hole. I believe the opposite to be true. It’s much easier to excel if you’re a great human being. ICON CEO Jason Ballard is that—with a big Texan accent and a Stetson hat to boot.

A conservation biologist turned construction technology pioneer, Jason is a prime example of what I call a pragmatic utopian. He is a very down-to-earth guy—an odd thing to say about the man whose company’s funding from NASA may put him on the path to be the first human to build a 3-D-printed structure on the moon. He’s also made an impact a little closer to home: in 2020, ICON completed seven 3-D-printed homes for a low-income Austin community. To achieve utopian goals like designing house-sized printers that can spit out homes for people in need, you have to be extremely practical as well as fanatically idealistic. Jason embodies those two extremes, and, in him, they never feel at odds with each other.

Ingels is the chief architect and founder of the Bjarke Ingels Group

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