Spotlight: Rem Koolhaas

  • 17 Nov 2014
  • by
  • Architecture News mini
Courtesy of Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture, and Design, via Flickr

The celebrated architect Remment (Rem) Koolhaas, the 2000 Pritzker Prize laureate and curator of the 2014 Venice Biennale, began his architectural education at the Architectural Association in London in 1968, eventually founding OMA (Office of Metropolitan Architecture) with one of his former professors, Elia Zenghelis (along with Zoe Zenghelis and Madelon Vriesendorp).

Despite ’s current ubiquity, the firm’s beginnings in 1975 were fairly modest. The commission of the high-profile Euralille project in 1989 was a turning point; the firm then began to move away from small scale projects (such as the Villa dall’Ava) to the large scale works that they’re known for today. Koolhaas’ firm is now known almost exclusively for large-scale works, such as the CCTV Headquarters (named the “Best Tall Building in the World” in 2013) and the Seattle Library (which is widely regarded as one of the most important buildings of the 21st century).

Courtesy of Metropolis Magazine

But OMA’s influence does not end with its diverse portfolio. Perhaps most importantly, the firm is a hotbed for architectural talent and innovation, and boasts “alumni” such as Zaha Hadid, Joshua Prince Ramus, Bjarke Ingels, and Jeanne Gang.

CCTV Headquarters / OMA, , Ole Scheeren . Image © Iwan Baan

Despite Koolhaas’ looming presence in the field, to call him just an architect would be a gross understatement. Indeed, he often works in the urban realm and has designed numerous city masterplans, including a civic centre in Bogotá and an arts district in Hong Kong. He is also widely respected as an urban theorist – his metropolitan manifesto ‘Delirious New York,’ has stood the test of time and is still a must-read for young designers.

The Seattle Public Library / OMA. Image Courtesy of OMA

His boundary-pushing (if not breaking) work has made him a hugely controversial figure, and any large commission he earns, without fail, prompts yet another round of debate on his work and approach. This year, his infamy has even led to a highly anticipated documentary by his son, film-maker Tomas Koolhaas. Yet no matter how his work is received, one thing is for certain – he will be remembered as one of the most influential architects of our age.

For a quick look at Koolhaas’ work, check out ArchDaily’s OMA round-ups here and here, or click the thumbnails below. You can also follow our coverage of the 2014 Venice Biennale here, and of Tomas Koolhaas’ documentary “Rem” here. Finally, check out the links below the images for some of the best Koolhaas-themed articles on ArchDaily in recent years:

Cite: Allen, Katherine. "Spotlight: Rem Koolhaas" 17 Nov 2014. ArchDaily. Accessed 29 May 2015. <>
  • spring

    Happy Birthday Rem Koolhaas!

  • Samuel

    Happy birthday to Rem!

  • Mohamed Abudagga

    Happy Birthday Rem.

  • joe

    If he isn’t smiling should any of us be ?

    • DH

      His eyes are smiling, you know he very rarely tips his hand LOL

  • Amin Dolatkhah

    happy birthday mr. Koolhas…I wish the best for you ♥ ♥

  • number 7

    Dear Rem,

    I am pleased to be the 7th Architect in line to wish you a happy birthday and pray that you will, in your infinite mercy, be content to refrain from destroying us all!

  • issouma

    happy birthday

  • Elchin Askerov

    Dear Mr. Koolhas.
    Happy birthday!
    You are Great Man! Greet you from Azerbaijan.

  • Christian S Tjan

    Gefelliciteerd Rem

  • Ilidio

    Happy Birthday Rem Koolhaas!

  • michelle

    Happy Birthday Rem!