Bjarke Ingles
no choice entrepreneurs bjarke ingels

Some entrepreneurs get even fewer options when it comes to carving out the career they want. Take architect Bjarke Ingles, 37; his work is all over the place these days, from the new Danish national Maritime museum, to a giant pulsing heart in Times Square, and his book Yes Is More: An Archicomic on Architectural Evolution.

By his own admission, Ingles ended up in architecture because he kept being successful in it despite trying to do other things. "My original fantasy was to be a graphic novelist. But in the absence of a graphic novel academy, I went into architecture," he says. "I figured it would give me a lot of drawing tools and, if nothing else, would make me good at drawing backgrounds."

As a third-year student, Ingles set up his first architecture practice and won his first competition. Despite that initial success, he found architecture stultifying.

"When I graduated, I went to work in Rotterdam in an architecture company. I was a young, frustrated guy in a business where you had to be a lay architect until your late 40s before you could get any of your own work produced," Ingles says. So he decided to try his hand at an Internet startup called "Remake" for the film industry, which ultimately didn't work out.

"So then I did another project called ETechture, trying to make an Internet-based platform for young architects where they could sell their plans at a very low price. It was a way to use the Internet for people that wanted to build a house but couldn't afford a big-name architect," he says. "The idea won awards and a cash prize, but then the NASDAQ crashed and all interest vanished for a while."

In between these efforts, Ingles had been noodling away on various architecture concepts, and after his latest venture failed, he looked around and found that he'd won three major architecture competitions. "That made the decision for me" he says. "It wasn't a big decision -- it was almost like the only decision."

Now, of course, Ingles recognizes architecture as one of his big loves. "Once you get bitten by architecture everything else becomes a way to get buildings made. I love good ideas, but if they don't result in a building, then who cares? It's like 'yeah that's great, but where's the building?'"

  @FortuneMagazine - Last updated October 10 2012 01:47 PM ET
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