Spotlight: Rem Koolhaas

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 at the Architectural Association in 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 OMA’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).

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Open Call: jumpthegap Seeks Ideas for “Bathroom of the Future”

Encouraging young designers and architects to create and design innovative, sustainable solutions for the bathroom, the sixth edition of the international design contest jumpthegap, organized by Roca and the Barcelona Design Centre (BCD), has been launched at the  with a presentation from the contest’s judge Tom Dyckhoff. An ideal platform for new generations to show their talent and visions for the bathroom of the future, jumpthegap is aimed at young professionals and students of architecture and design under 35. Registration closes February 2015. The jury, which will be led by MAD principle Ma Yansong, is expected to announce the winner in October 2015.

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Four Practices Shortlisted for Tucson’s January 8th Memorial

Future site of the memorial. Image Courtesy of January 8th Memorial Foundation

The January 8th Memorial Foundation has selected four finalists out of the 60 practices and artists, both national and international, who submitted applications to create a permanent memorial and master plan concept for the El Presidio Park in , Arizona. The permanent memorial would commemorate the January 8, 2011, mass shooting that wounded Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, killed six people and injured 12 others. The memorial is also intended to honor the spirit of the community in its responses to the tragedy and to inspire future generations to work together on community issues. The four finalists are:

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Open for Submissions: Re-Imagining Toronto’s “Winter Stations”

’s life guard stands. Image Courtesy of RAW Design, Ferris + Associates and

RAW Design, Ferris + Associates and Curio have launched Winter Stations, an open international design competition challenging artists, designers, architects and landscape architects re-imagine the life guard stands on Toronto’s waterfront as “temporary wintertime installations” that “inject color, movement, humor and more into the landscape.” The theme is “Warmth,” and there is no limit to the size of the installation, but the jurors will take durability and constructibility into account. The selected installations will be built in February 2015. Registration is now open and submissions are due December 5, 2014 with winners announced in early January 2015. All the details can be found, here.

Dichotomy Journal Plays the Odds: Open Call for Submissions on Taking Architectural Risks

The “Gherkin” in London (background) and the Lloyd’s Building (foreground) redefined the skyline through their unorthodox designs. Image © Flickr CC User duncanh1

University of Detroit Mercy’s Dichotomy Journal has issued an for submissions to its 21st edition on the theme of “Odds,” inviting discussion on projects that “defy the status quo and aim for greater fortune.Risk takers rejoice: Dichotomy 21 will shine a spotlight on architectural anomalies and the “implications of defying the odds and embracing the strange.” The journal aims to stimulate a new discourse on extraordinary and unconventional designs that push the architectural envelope. Submissions are invited to discuss ideas defying the odds in design, architecture, urbanism and community development.

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Eduardo Souto de Moura Tapped for Mixed-Use Condo Project in DC

, 2011 Pritzker laureate, in front of the Casa das Histórias Paula Rego © Francisco Nogueira

Eastbanc has tapped Portuguese architect Eduardo Souto de Moura to transform a former “Four Seasons gas station” site into a mixed-use condo. According to a report on the Georgetowner, the developer has asked residents to have “an open mind” for the design, which, as Urban Turf points out, is likely to stand out in the historic Washington D.C. district. Little details have been released. “We are considering all options, from condo to rental to hotel,” Eastbanc President Anthony Lanier stated. “It’s early in the design phase.”

Typological to Evolutionary: A New Theory of Cities

Champs Elysees – Paris, France. Image © Flickr User justininsd

Why do cities exist and how will they grow and change? As more than half of the world’s population now lives in it is becoming increasingly important for urban designers and planners to seek answers to these questions. This article by Laura Bliss from City Lab presents the “science of cities,” and the ways in which the urban-planning world is moving away from traditional methods of simply putting cities into categories, in favor of a more evolutionary theory. Benefiting from the vast amounts of data available today on statistics such as crime and voting patterns across cities, researchers have worked to establish the quantifiable characteristics of urban areas as a whole, and recent studies in this area reveal how the shapes of cities themselves could be connected to internal economic and social processes. Learn more about these radical developments in the full article from City Lab.

The Race to Save Architecture in Myanmar’s Biggest City

View from Golden Hill Towers in Yangon, (2010). Image © Flickr CC User Soe Lin

Preservationists are in a race to document and preserve some of Yangon’s most admired cultural icons. Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon is experiencing an all to familiar story: rapid development taking precedence over . As the National Geographic reports, “Hulking monoliths of concrete and blue-plated glass are replacing fine old residential and government buildings…Although much has already been lost, many architecturally or esthetically significant structures have hung on. The question now is  how long they will last.” Read the complete story, here.

Help Us Honor Rem Koolhaas On His 70th Birthday

Courtesy of Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture, and Design, via Flickr

Rem Koolhaas, one of today’s most celebrated architects, has lived a significant year. With the closing of his much-talked about Venice Biennale just days away, the Dutchman also turns 70 years old this coming Monday. 

Koolhaas’ approach to architecture and architectural thinking holds tremendous importance and weight – so much so that Bjarke Ingels, one of his many protegés, has called him “the Le Corbusier of our time.”

In recognition of his contribution to the world of architecture (and on the occasion of his birthday) we’re asking you, our readers, to post video and/or visual tributes to Rem to your social media accounts using the hasthtag #Rem70. Has Koolhaas influenced the work of your studio or office? Show your support or appreciation in a short video clip! Would you like to share a portrait or illustration of Rem or his projects? Do you have an anecdote or story? Be creative! We’ll be publishing our favorites on his birthday, so start tagging (#Rem70) and stay tuned.

Karim Rashid Shifts Focus to Architecture

Lotte Amoje, Food Capital / Karim Rashid. Image © Lee Gyeon Bae

Karim Rashid, internationally renowned for his work in industrial design, has recently shifted his focus towards real estate. Alongside his team of nine architects, the -based designer is currently working on 11 buildings worldwide, including four in . With extensive knowledge in product design and no formal architectural education, Rashid believes designing architecture isn’t out of his realm:

“I have to say, and I don’t mean this in a pejorative way, that architecture, in a sense the more pedestrian architecture, is generally quite simple compared to industrial design. In other words, it’s far more sophisticated to do something like a mobile phone than it is to do an average building.” Read the full interview, here.

Can Good Architecture Be as Calming as Meditation?

Louis Kahn’s Salk Institute was among the “contemplative architecture” that the researchers used during the study. Image © Flickr CC User dreamsjung

If ever architects needed a little vindication in their work, this might just be it: a team of neuroscientists have found evidence that good architecture can positively affect the human brain. Testing a highly susceptible group of subjects (i.e. architects), the team demonstrated that so-called “contemplative architecture” can have similar effects to meditation – except with much less effort on the part of the person experiencing it. This article in the Atlantic discusses the team’s work at length, delving into the science behind the discovery, but also uncovering an interesting oddity in the world of architectural : it seems not much is being done because ”it’s difficult to suggest that people are dying from it.” In the case of the current study, the team “totally loaded the deck” by only selecting architects as their subjects, apparently not aiming to prove anything but simply to secure further funding. Read the full article here for more on the latest in architectural neuroscience.

Are Monuments And Memorials Intrinsically Introverted?

© Richard Lea-Hair and Historic Royal Palaces

The Observer’s Rowan Moore “accidentally got swept into a tide of humanity at the weekend, or to put it another way, couldn’t move for crowds.” In memorial of the start of the centenary of World War One, of which today marks the anniversary of the armistice (11.11.1918), the Tower of London have installed a sea of 888,246 ceramic poppies in the former moat. The artwork, created by Paul Cummins and Tom Piper, and entitled Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, ”has caught the national imagination.” For Moore, however, “it is deeply disturbing that a hundred years on from 1914, [the UK] can only mark this terrible as a national tragedy.” He argues that “the spectacle of all these red poppies is emptier than that. [...] It is a deeply aestheticised, prettified and toothless memorial.” Read the article in full here.

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19 Great Monuments Destroyed by War

Great Mosque of Samarra, Iraq . Image © Flickr CC User James Gordon

One of the most important Islamic architectural monuments, the Great Mosque of Samarra in Iraq is one of many priceless monuments that has been “lost in conflict.” Paying homage to the architectural masterpieces that have been victims of , CNN has put together a list of 19 of the world’s “greatest buildings you’ll never see.” View them all, here.

Two Universities Win NCARB Award for Merging Practice and Education

“The Dean of : Design Education Must Change” (click image for article). Image Courtesy of Metropolis Magazine

The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) has awarded Parsons The New School for Design and Clemson University the 2014 NCARB Award to aid the development of innovative programs that merge practice and education.

“The award honors innovative ways for weaving practice and academy together to address real-world architecture challenges,” says NCARB CEO Michael J. Armstrong. “The winning proposals for 2014 explore new paradigms of practice and move students from the theoretical to applied practices working with licensed practitioners.”

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Robert A.M. Stern Reportedly Set to Retire from Yale in 2016

After serving as dean at the for nearly two decades, Robert A.M. Stern is reportedly stepping down. According to Yale Daily News, faculty and administrative staff members have indicated that Stern will be retiring when his term as dean concludes in Spring 2016. “[Stern] took [the school] from a place where people were not paying attention to it many years ago — he has brought incredible international attention to the school,” Professor Michelle Addington stated in regards to Stern’s widespread influence as dean. “He has given me the opportunity to rethink my subject, and that doesn’t happen at too many places.” More information, here.

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights: “Failed Memorial and White Elephant”?

Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Image © Aaron Cohen/CMHR-MCDP

In an article for The Walrus, Adele Weder examines Antoine Predock‘s (who was recently made a National Academy Academician) Canadian Museum for Human Rights: a “colossal, twelve-storey mountain of concrete and stone, 120,000 square feet of tempered glass, and 260,000 square feet of floor space.” Early advocates of the museum “felt that Winnipeg was ripe for such a statement piece,” just as Bilbao had been for the . Welder’s explorations are clear and concise, finding all sorts “of paradoxes swirling around the Museum for Human Rights.” Noting that “it’s definitely a kick-ass building, with its aggressive outer form, jagged paths inside, big black slabs of basalt, thick sheets of glass, and the huge metal girders that hold it all together,” Weder argues that it’s position as a “failed memorial and white elephant” may be it’s eventual undoing.

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Guggenheim Creates New Curatorial Position for Architecture and Digital Initiatives

AD Classics: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum / Frank Lloyd Wright. Image © Flickr CC User Richard Anderson

Architect and scholar  has been appointed as the Guggenheim’s new Curator of Architecture and Digital Initiatives. Therrien will now contribute to the development of the museum’s engagement with architecture, design, technology, and urban studies, in addition to providing leadership on select new projects under the direction of the Chief Curator and the Director’s Office.

“Advancing innovative programming that relates to architecture, technology, and urban studies, particularly on a global stage, is a priority for the Guggenheim,” Richard Armstrong, director of the Guggenheim stated. “Troy’s impressive and dynamic background spanning academia, architecture, and computer science should expand our forward-looking curatorial team.” Read the complete press release, here.

Call for Proposals: Boston Living with Water

Courtesy of Boston Living with Water

The Boston Harbor Association, City of Boston, Boston Redevelopment Authority, and have teamed up to launch Boston Living with Water, “an international call for design solutions envisioning a more resilient, more sustainable, and more beautiful Boston adapted for end-of-the-century climate conditions and rising sea levels.” The two-phase competition, open to all leading planners, designers and thinkers, will award the best overall proposal $20,000; the second and third best will each receive $10,000. Submissions for the first phase are due December 2, 2014. Learn more, here.