the world's most visited architecture website

OMA's 15 Most Outrageous Unbuilt Skyscrapers

Since 1975, the Rotterdam-based Office for Metropolitan Architecture has produced some of the world's most provocative buildings. Led by Rem Koolhaas and his nine partners, the firm's most notable built projects include seminal works such as the CCTV Headquarters in Beijing, the Seattle Central Library, and Casa da Musica in Porto, Portugal. Known as one of the world's leading creators of boundary-pushing design, OMA's influence on the global architectural landscape is undeniable.

Among the firm's several hundred realized projects, however, many lesser known proposals were drafted but never constructed. Arguably a fundamental component of the OMA's practice, the unbuilt projects contain some of the firm's most outlandish and important ideas with incredible potential to influence architectural design worldwide. As a tribute to Koolhaas and OMA's continued pursuit of the unconventional, we've rounded up fifteen of OMA's most unusual unbuilt skyscrapers. Read on to find out which ones made the list.

C3 Maastowers. Image Courtesy of OMA 425 Park Avenue. Image Courtesy of OMA MoMA Charette. Image Courtesy of OMA Dubai Renaissance. Image Courtesy of OMA

Spotlight: Rem Koolhaas

With the extensive list of acclaimed alumni of his firm, OMA, it is not a stretch to call Rem Koolhaas (born 17 November 1944) the godfather of contemporary architecture. Equal parts theorist and designer, over his 40 year career Koolhaas has revolutionized the way architects look at program and interaction of space, and today continues to design buildings that push the capabilities of architecture to new places.

Cy Twombly Painting Sells for $70.5 Million to Fund OMA's LA Synagogue Extension

OMA's first ever building for a religious institution will be constructed with a little help from one of the United States' greatest 20th century artists. In an auction at Sotheby's in New York yesterday, Cy Twombly's 1968 "Untitled (New York City)" - one of the artist's notable "Blackboard Paintings" - sold for $70.5 million, $30 million of which will be donated to LA's Wilshire Boulevard Temple by the painting's owner, Audrey Irmas, to fund the temple's OMA-designed extension.

As reported by the LA Times, the synagogue's new "Audrey Irmas Pavilion" has been designed to be "clearly in dialogue" with the 1929 Byzantine revival temple, and will be used in the celebration of weddings and bar mitzvahs, as well as for meetings, conferences, and gala events by other nonprofit groups. Though the design has not yet been unveiled, the pavilion is currently slated for a 2019 opening.

OMA and Ole Scheeren's Interlace Named World Building of the Year 2015

OMA and Buro Ole Scheeren's vertical village in Singapore, The Interlace has been named the World Building of the Year 2015 at culmination of the World Architecture Festival (WAF). Celebrated for being "an example of bold, contemporary architectural thinking," as WAF Director Paul Finch described, the project is eighth building to ever win the illustrious award. It is considered to be a "radical new approach to contemporary living in a tropical environment."

Winners of the year's Future Project, Landscape, Small Project and Color Prize awards were also announced. Read on to see the who won with comments from the jury. 

OMA to Design Fashion and Technology Exhibition at the MET

Shohei Shigematsu, the Director of OMA New York, has been selected to lead the design of the exhibition space for the Costume Institute’s Spring 2016 Exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Titled manus x machina: fashion in an age of technology, the exhibition will focus on the intersection of technology and fashion and “how designers are reconciling the handmade and the machine-made in the creation of haute couture and avant-garde ready-to-wear.” Organized by Andrew Bolton, the Curator of The Costume Institute, the exhibition will feature over 100 samples of “haute couture and avant-garde ready-to-wear, dating from an 1880s Worth gown to a 2015 Chanel suit.”

Tomas Koolhaas Unveils Pre-Release Teaser for "REM"

"I think it is much better to say," explains Rem Koolhaas, "that we are challenged by people's needs." The closing line of this short teaser released by the filmmaker and son of Rem, Tomas Koolhaas, sums up perfectly why "REM" is one of the most highly anticipated architecture documentaries of recent years. Now three years in the making, Tomas Koolhaas' film will examine his father's incomparable oeuvre of work through the eyes of the people that inhabit the designs, eschewing the high-brow and sometimes impenetrable discourse that usually surrounds the work of OMA for something more elemental.

Gallery: OMA's Garage Museum of Contemporary Art Photographed by Laurian Ghinitoiu

Photographer Laurian Ghinitoiu has shared with us images of OMA's recently completed Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow. The museum project repurposed the 1960s Vremena Goda restaurant in Gorky Central Park and transformed it into a modern exhibition space adorned with Soviet era tiles, mosaics and bricks preserved from its previous life. 

"The building offers a wide range of interior conditions for the exhibition of art beyond the ubiquitous “white cube,” described OMA in the project's description. Scroll down for more images of the museum by Ghinitoiu. 

Garage Museum of Contemporary Art / OMA. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu Garage Museum of Contemporary Art / OMA. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu Garage Museum of Contemporary Art / OMA. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu Garage Museum of Contemporary Art / OMA. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu

OMA to Redesign Washington DC's RFK Stadium Campus

OMA has been selected to redevelop Washington DC's Robert F. Kennedy (RFK) Stadium campus. Lauded by the commissioners for their ability to activate public space, especially along waterfronts, OMA was also recently chosen alongside OLIN to design the city's 11th Street Bridge Park.

“One of the things we realized as we were analyzing the future use of RFK, after talking to a lot of potential users, is that there was no conceptual master plan that can be shared with the community once the ideas are put to paper,” said Max Brown, chairman Events DC - the organization spearheading the project. “We needed someone to help tell a story about what this place could be and options for use and how they’re located.”

Alternative Realities: 7 Radical Buildings That Could-Have-Been

In It’s A Wonderful Life the film’s protagonist George Bailey, facing a crisis of faith, is visited by his guardian angel, and shown an alternate reality where he doesn’t exist. The experience gives meaning to George’s life, showing him his own importance to others. With the increasing scale of design competitions these days, architectural “could-have-beens” are piling up in record numbers, and just as George Bailey's sense of self was restored by seeing his alternate reality, hypothesizing about alternative outcomes in architecture is a chance to reflect on our current architectural moment.

Today marks the one-year-anniversary of the opening of Phase 3 of the High Line. While New Yorkers and urbanists the world over have lauded the success of this industrial-utility-turned-urban-oasis, the park and the slew of other urban improvements it has inspired almost happened very differently. Although we have come to know and love the High Line of Diller Scofidio + Renfro and James Corner Field Operations, in the original ideas competition four finalists were chosen and the alternatives show stark contrasts in how things might have shaped up.

On this key date for one of the most crucial designs of this generation, we decided to look back at some of the most important competitions of the last century to see how things might have been different.

Joseph Marzella's second-place design for the Sydney Opera House. Image via The Daily Mail Designs for the Chicago Tribune Tower by Adolf Loos (left) and Bruno Taut, Walter Gunther, and Kurz Schutz (right). Image via Design for the High Line by Zaha Hadid Architects with Balmori Associates, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP and studio MDA. Image via University of Adelaide on Cargo Collective Moshe Safdie's design for the Centre Pompidou. Image Courtesy of Safdie Architects

Elia Zenghelis and Steven Holl Share Lessons Learned from a Life in Architecture

In the latest video on architecture and urbanism from 32BNY, Steven Holl and his associate Dimitra Tsachrelia sit down with Elia Zenghelis, a founding partner at OMA and former lecturer at the Architectural Association in London. After forty-five years in architecture, Zenghelis has come to a series of conclusions, including a long-standing belief that men obstruct the design potential of their female colleagues, creating an imbalance in the professional landscape. "Women are much better architects than men," proclaims Zenghelis, former professor to Steven Holl, Rem Koolhaas and Zaha Hadid (as well as a former collaborator of the latter two). Sitting in Holl's New York office, Zenghelis argues that women have a certain intuition that proves essential to the creation of great design. "It's men that dominate the scene - something has to happen," he says.

Read on for more on the contents of the video.

OMA Launches New Website

The Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) has launched a new website in an effort to make their work more accessible. A collaboration with Oslo-based Bengler and NODE, "functions as an omnivorous sensor," says OMA, that "redefines the office’s digital presence and offers a tool for many different users." Check it out for yourself, here

Gallery: OMA's Fondazione Prada Photographed by Laurian Ghinitoiu

In May, OMA celebrated the opening of Fondazione Prada. Set out to “expand the repertoire of spatial typologies in which art can be exhibited and shared with the public,” the project resulted in an “unusually diverse environment” staged within a historic 20th-century distillery south of Milan’s city center that goes beyond the traditional white museum box. 

Fondazione Prada / OMA. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu Fondazione Prada / OMA. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu Fondazione Prada / OMA. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu Fondazione Prada / OMA. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu

A+U 540: OMA – Recent Works

From the publisher. September 2015 issue of a+u is focused on OMA, architectural office led by Rem Koolhaas. Featuring 14 recent works, including 7 in-progress works.

In recent years, increasing number of projects that OMA takes on involve preservation or renovation of historic architecture. Fondazione Prada and Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, both completed this year, convert modern heritage into museums where the visitors experience spatial diversity brought about by the harmony and friction of old and new.

Examining OMA's Two Latest Venues for Contemporary Art

In an article for DesignCurial, Shumi Bose visits OMA's new galleries in Milan and Moscow: the Fondazione Prada and the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art. Noting that "the mythologies [between OMA and Miuccia Prada] have become inextricably intertwined" over recent years, "the purpose of [the Fondazione Prada] was to produce a range of spaces for the creation, display of and engagement with art; what results is the built realisation of a particular ethos, affording the protean OMA a return to form. And it was always going to be stylish." Bose's flowing description of the building and its spaces, which she ultimately praises as "a place which will bear return," leads into an equally compelling description of Garage for which she recognises its clear "contribution [...] in supporting, indeed composing, the very narrative of Russian contemporary art."

Rem Koolhaas on Prada, Preservation, Art and Architecture

With the opening of the Fondazione Prada art galleries in May, OMA showed a different side to their practice, one focusing on preservation and assemblage rather than the iconography and diagrammatic layout that many associate with the firm. In this interview, originally published by Metropolis Magazine as "Koolhaas Talks Prada," Rem Koolhaas explains the reasoning behind this new approach, and how they attempted to avoid falling into the clichés of post-industrial art spaces.

When the Fondazione Prada opened its doors to a new permanent home in Milan dedicated to contemporary culture, it not only placed the Italian city firmly at the forefront of today’s global art world, but also introduced an ambitious new way of thinking about the relationship between architecture and art. The location—an original 1910 distillery in a distinctly gritty part of the city—comprised seven spaces including warehouses and three enormous brewing cisterns with a raw industrial quality that the architects, Dutch firm OMA, retained while adding three new buildings made of glass, white concrete, and aluminum foam. One, the centrally located Podium, is intended for temporary shows, while another—still under construction—is a nine-story tower that will house the foundation’s archives, art installations, and a restaurant. The third, a theater with a mirrored facade, features folding walls that allow the building to open onto a courtyard. In total, the collection of buildings provides nearly 120,000 square feet of exhibition space, more than twice that of the new Whitney Museum of American Art. Metropolis correspondent Catherine Shaw visited the site with Pritzker Prize–winning architect Rem Koolhaas to find out more about the challenges of creating a new cultural paradigm.

OMA’s approach to the exhibition pavilions is eclectic, though undeniably modern. (Note the Miesian detail of the vertical beam affixed to the building envelope). Image © Bas Princen - Fondazione Prada The Fondazione’s inaugural exhibition, the Serial Classic, explores questions of authenticity and imitation in classical antiquity. The lifesize sculptures are mounted on an intricate flooring system designed for the exhibition and composed of travertine, brushed aluminum, and perspex—all exposed along the edges. Image © Attilio Maranzano The gilded exhibition hall is the central focal point of the Fondazione. Called the Haunted House, the structure’s blank utilitarian features are draped in gold leaf, an ostensibly spontaneous extravagance that Koolhaas post-rationalizes on functionalist grounds. The building towers above the rest of the campus’s open-air spaces and warehouses, which all can be taken in from the Haunted House’s balconies. Image © Bas Princen - Fondazione Prada The Fondazione encompasses a veritable townscape consisting of warehouse hangars interwoven with the new buildings. The former are subtly spruced up, indicated by the linear orange markings repeated on their exterior. Elevation changes in the ground variegate the pedestrian’s experience of the compound while demarcating the Fondazione’s important nodes, such as the cinema clad in a mirrored veneer. Touches likes this lend the complex a haunting, almost surrealist dimension. Image © Bas Princen - Fondazione Prada

Ingrid Böck's "Six Canonical Projects by Rem Koolhaas" Dissects the Ideas that have Made Koolhaas' Career

Seattle Central Library. Image © Ramon Prat
Seattle Central Library. Image © Ramon Prat

First published in May, Six Canonical Projects by Rem Koolhaas by Ingrid Böck reveals the logic behind Koolhaas’ projects and the ideas and themes running through his career. Incredibly thorough in her analysis, Böck aims to correct what she views as an absence of complete studies on an architect who has had an enormous influence on the theory and practice of architecture. Böck presents these six projects, which include Koolhaas’ thesis project “Exodus, or the Voluntary Prisoners of Architecture,” Ville Nouvelle Melun-Sénart, Maison Bordeaux, the Dutch Embassy in Berlin, the Seattle Central Library, and the CCTV Headquarters, because they most directly explore six concepts prominent throughout Koolhaas’ work: Wall, Void, Montage, Trajectory, Infrastructure, and Shape.

OMA Selected to Design Sport and Sciences Building for Brighton College

OMA has been selected to design a new building for Brighton College that will host its sport and science departments. Their design combines the two departments into one linear building that runs along the edge of the playing field.

The sport facilities are housed on the same level as the field, while the science department stretches over the top “like a skeletal bridge.” Views between the two departments are offered on the inside creating “lively and animated circulation throughout the new building.” The façade is inspired by the terrace housing that runs opposite the building.

'What is The Netherlands?' Exploring the World Expo at Rotterdam's Nieuwe Instituut

Now at the halfway point of the six month long World Expo in Milan, in which 145 countries are participating in a concentration of national spectacle surrounding the theme of "feeding the planet," Rotterdam's Nieuwe Instituut (HNI)—the centre for architecture in the Netherlands—is exhibiting an altogether more reflective display of national civic pride.

Rotterdam, which was blitzed and decimated during the Second World War, is a place well suited to host an exhibition whose underlying theme centres on the fragile, often precarious notion of national self-image. Following the war Rotterdam was forced to rebuild itself, carving out a new place on the world stage and reestablishing its importance as an international port. Now, seventy years later, Rotterdam is a very different place. In demonstrating just how delicate the construction of a tangible national identity can be this latest exhibition at the HNI offers up a sincere speculative base for self-reflection.

A chronology of chairs presents a brief history of Dutch seating at the World's Fair. Image © Peter Tijhuis Diagrammatic model by AMO of the 1970 Osaka pavilion by Carel Weeber and Jaap Bakema. Image © AMO Where the inner ring focuses on a dialectic between governance and lyricism, the second ring presents a selection of artefacts from the respective pavilions. Image © Mimmink The second (outer) ring features emblematic found objects  of Dutch innovation at the World's Fair. Image © Peter Tijhuis