In honor of Rem Koolhaas’ birthday today, we are bringing you all things Koolhaas: 12 Fun Koolhaas quotes; a fabulous article by former New York Times critic, Nicolai Ouroussoff; this ArchDaily original editorial; and, later today, a Round-Up of all of OMA’s latest works. Stay tuned!
Imagine London, but not the way you know it. Imagine it physically separated, much like Berlin once was, into two zones: one of pleasure and one of practicality. Consider how the city would eventually appear as inhabitants rushed to the pleasure zone; how the zone of practicality would eventually, inevitably become bereft.
This is the London of a young Rem Koolhaas’ imaginings, written for his Thesis at the Architectural Association School in London in the late 60s. Before Delirious New York, before OMA, and much before the CCTV Tower, Koolhaas was inspired by this idea of the divided city – and it’s a fitting image to start thinking about the ever provocative, often controversial Rem: a man who stands with one foot in the world of desire and the other, reluctantly, in that of practicality; a man who would perhaps prefer the title of urban thinker, despite clearly being one of architecture’s great masters.
It’s exactly this in-between-ness, this reluctance to fit into one supposed role, that has been Koolhaas’ greatest asset, that has allowed him to approach the profession from such unlikely angles. Using the city’s freedoms as his inspiration, and rejecting as given the expectations of what architecture is(even questioning its relevance at all), Koolhaas, the “reluctant architect,” is also the most radical of our time, and the most vital for our future.
Rem Koolhaas has been causing trouble in the world of architecture since his student days in London in the early 1970s. Architects want to build, and as they age most are willing to tone down their work if it will land them a juicy commission. But Koolhaas, 67, has remained a first-rate provocateur who, even in our conservative times, just can’t seem to behave. His China Central Television headquarters building, completed this past May, was described by some critics as a cynical work of propaganda and by others (including this one) as a masterpiece. Earlier projects have alternately awed and infuriated those who have followed his career, including a proposal to transform part of the Museum of Modern Art into a kind of ministry of self-promotion called MoMA Inc. (rejected) and an addition to the Whitney Museum of American Art that would loom over the existing landmark building like a cat pawing a ball of yarn (dropped).
Koolhaas’ habit of shaking up established conventions has made him one of the most influential architects of his generation. A disproportionate number of the profession’s rising stars, including Winy Maas of the Dutch firm MVRDV and Bjarke Ingels of the Copenhagen-based BIG, did stints in his office. Architects dig through his books looking for ideas; students all over the world emulate him. The attraction lies, in part, in his ability to keep us off balance. Unlike other architects of his stature, such as Frank Gehry or Zaha Hadid, who have continued to refine their singular aesthetic visions over long careers, Koolhaas works like a conceptual artist—able to draw on a seemingly endless reservoir of ideas.
Pritzker-Prize Laureate Remment Lucas Koolhaas (you probably know him as ”Rem”) turns 68 today. The co-founder of one of the world’s most renowned architecture firms, OMA, and an urban-planner/philosopher whose theories have provoked admiration (and ire) for over thirty years, Koolhaas is undeniably one of a kind.
In honor of the occasion, today we’ll be bringing you all things Koolhaas: a fabulous article by former New York Times critic, Nicolai Ouroussoff, a Round-Up of all of OMA’s latest works, an original ArchDaily editorial, and this list of quotes from the architect himself – some poignant, all provocative (this is Koolhaas, after all). Such as this gem: “People can inhabit anything. And they can be miserable in anything and ecstatic in anything. More and more I think that architecture has nothing to do with it. Of course, that’s both liberating and alarming…”
12 Classic Koolhaas Quotes, after the break…
In Criticism of Architecture:
“People can inhabit anything. And they can be miserable in anything and ecstatic in anything. More and more I think that architecture has nothing to do with it. Of course, that’s both liberating and alarming.
But the generic city, the general urban condition, is happening everywhere, and just the fact that it occurs in such enormous quantities must mean that it’s habitable. Architecture can’t do anything that the culture doesn’t. We all complain that we are confronted by urban environments that are completely similar. We say we want to create beauty, identity, quality, singularity. And yet, maybe in truth these cities that we have are desired. Maybe their very characterlessness provides the best context for living.” —interview in Wired, July 1996
“Where space was considered permanent, it now feels transitory – on its way to becoming. The words and ideas of architecture, once the official language of space, no longer seem capable of describing this proliferation of new conditions. But even as its utility is questioned in the real world, architectural language survives, its repertoire of concepts and metaphors resurrected to create clarity and definition in new, unfamiliar domains (think chatrooms, Web sites, and firewalls). Words that die in the real are reborn in the virtual.” - Note from Rem Koolhaas, guest-editor of Wired, June 2003
“Architecture has been defined in terms of one activity, and that activity is adding to the world. A few years ago I realized the profession was as if lobotomized – it was stuck conceiving of itself only in terms of adding things and not in terms of taking away or erasing things. The same intelligence for adding ought to also deal with its debris.”—interview in Wired, July 1996
“Junkspace is the sum total of our current architecture: we have built more than all previous history together, but we hardly register on the same scales. [...] It substitutes accumulation for hierarchy, addition for composition. More and more, more is more. Junkspace is overripe and undernourishing at the same time, a colossal security blanket that covers the earth. … Junkspace is like being condemned to a perpetual Jacuzzi with millions of your best friends.”- Article in Wired, June 2000
On Thinking and Writing:
When asked if he has a certain aspiration: “It’s very simple and it has nothing to do with identifiable goals. It is to keep thinking about what architecture can be, in whatever form. That is an answer, isn’t it?[...] continuity of thinking in whatever form, around whatever subject, is the real ambition.” —Interview with Jennifer Sigler in Index Magazine, 2000
“I like thinking big. I always have. To me its very simple: if youre going to be thinking anyway, you might as well think big.” -S, M, L, XL
“There is an enormous, deliberate, and – I think – healthy discrepancy between what I write and what I do.” —interview in Wired, July 1996
On his work:
“I’ve absolutely never thought about money or economic issues,but as an architect I think this is a strength. It allows me to be irresponsible and to invest in my work.” - Smithsonian Mag, Septebmer 2012
Commenting on the ambiguity of his visions as either utopian or dystopian: “That has been my entire life story. Running against the current and running with the current. Sometimes running with the current is underestimated. The acceptance of certain realities doesn’t preclude idealism. It can lead to certain breakthroughs.”- Smithsonian Mag, Septebmer 2012
“The unbuilt is the fantasy that underlies everything.” - Article in Wired, June 2000
Describing the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London in the late 60s: “flower power and terminal humanism. Goodness had become niceness. I felt incredibly uncomfortable.” - Article in Wired, June 2000
On New York City: ”‘Zero tolerance’ is a deadly mantra for a metropolis: What is a city if not a space of maximum license?” – An article in Wired, June 2003
Beginning on October 16th, 2012, Galeries Lafayette in Paris, France, will be celebrating the 100 year anniversary of the Dome designed by architect Ferdinand Chanut and glass artist Jacques Gruber in 1912. 100 years under the Dome will be held at the flagship store of the boulevard Haussmann, a true Parisian symbol. In addition, the gallery will launch an exhibition called 1912-2012. Chronicles of a Creative Itinerary by architect Rem Koolhaas and his studio OMA, along with a collaboration called Chrysalide between visual artist Yann Kersalé and Djuric Tardio – Architectes.
Join us after the break for more stunning images for the anticipated celebration.
Cinematographer Tomas Koolhaas, son of notorious Rem Koolhaas, has shared with us his latest clips from the feature length documentary film, REM. Set to debut in 2013, the motion picture breaks away from conventional approach to filming architecture and exposes the raw, human experience of Dutch architect’s most famous projects. As Tomas describes, REM gives the audience “a rare insight into the reality of the hidden internal life of the buildings”.
ArchDaily had the chance to discuss the film with Tomas. Continue after the break for the complete interview and another small preview of the film!
Hot on the heels of the Jencks Award, yet another accolade is rumored to be coming Rem Koolhaas‘ way. The claims are flying about the twitterverse: OMA’s Koolhaas will be the next Director of the Venice Biennale.
Dezeen first reported the story after reading a tweet by the Biennale’s current Assistant Director to David Chipperfield, Kieran Long (Long’s also the architecture critic for London’s Evening Standard as well as the former Editor-in-Chief of Architectural Review/The Architect’s Journal). You can read the tweet for yourself below:
Of course, it’s all still rumors at this point, but we’ll keep you updated of any developments in the story.
Story via Dezeen
The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has announced Rem Koolhaas as the recipient of the 2012 Jencks Award. Given annually to an individual (or practice) that has recently made a major contribution internationally to both the theory and practice of architecture, the award will be presented to Koolhaas on November 20th at the RIBA in London. The event will also feature a public lecture by Koolhaas, chaired by architectural theorist Charles Jencks.
The RIBA stated: “Through his research and experimentation as well as his built projects and literature, Rem Koolhaas consciously works to deepen and expand the intrinsic connection between architecture and contemporary culture.”
Continue reading to learn more!
“Rem Koolhaas: A Kind of Architect” (2008) filmed by Markus Heidingsfelder and Min Tesch, and produced by Arthouse Films, Rem Koolhaas: A Kind of Architect offers a “thought-provoking portrait of the architect”.
Rooted in theory, Koolhaas, a creative genius, has produced work that completely takes the field of architecture to the next level. At his best, Koolhaas’ projects are so conceptually compelling that his approach, aesthetic and building performance are unmatched. By constantly questioning the norm, Koolhaas can critically analize the existing to create a theoretical model that can be manifested into the physical realm. Although architecture came later in his life, Koolhaas has an innate ability to utilize every componenet of architecture, from circulation to structure, to strengthen his vision.
The documentary, featuring interviews from other architects and friends about Koolhaas, provides a look into his process and his influence on the field.
You can watch the full documentary on the above embed.
Enjoy this interesting footage captured by Tomas Koolhaas – son of Rem Koolhaas – in February 2012 of the recently completed China Central Television (CCTV) Headquarters in Beijing. The monumental structure took eight years to complete and is OMA‘s first major building in China, as well as their largest project to date. The building is planned for occupancy later this year to broadcast the London 2012 Olympics. Check out our previous coverage for more building information.
Continue after the break to view a short clip inside the CCTV building during construction!
In The Simpsons last episode, Rem Koolhaas made a brief appearance where he is shown teaching to a group of students.
As Metropolitan Monk noted in Archinect.com, to appear in The Simpsons episode is the most unchallengeable proof that you have achieved Starchitect status.
The Scene, described by Archinect.com: “Rem Koolhaas is working – on a cruise ship notabene – as an instructor – probably in iconographic buildings – in KIDZONE ELITE. The ship, just like CCTV, is an emblem of closure. The architect is holding a couple of lego-bricks in his left hand while seeming to fix something to the back of the tower”.
With the excitement of seeing Koolhaas on television, which architect would you like to see on a future episode?
Created by Reiser + Umemoto for the Hong Kong & Shenzhen Bi-City Biennale, “Manhattan Memorious” explores what Manhattan could have been. The film visualizes several unrealized projects from Manhattan, including Buckminster Fuller’s dome over Midtown, Rem Koolhaas’ City of the Captive Globe, RUR’s East River Corridor, Paul Rudolph’s Eastside Redevelopment Corridor, Morphosis’ West Side Yard and others.
Jesse Reiser, Principal of Reiser + Umemoto, explains; “Before a city becomes a thing of steel, concrete and glass it is a theater of visions in conflict. As a city ages, the visions do not die but come up against the physical and ideological resistance of the place and its people. The city we see today is the direct result of radical visions, gradually changing the way the future is realized. This is an account of a Manhattan that could have been – might have been. A phantasmagorical Manhattan where the visionary meets the everyday – the absurd and the sublime. The island as we know it is but a pale reflection of a city designed by visionaries – a city of mad, incongruous utopias.”
Architect Rem Koolhaas – author of Delirious New York – and curator Hans Ulrich Obrist – known for his exhibitions and his “endless conversation” with hundreds of artists and thinkers, racking up 2,000 hours of interviews since 1990 – will discuss their new book Project Japan, part oral history and part documentation of Japan’s radical mode of nation building. The event will take place March 8th at 7:00pm at the NYPL (New York Public Library) in the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. More information on the event after the break.
OMA recently completed their first building in London. The new 21,000sqm building is located in the narrow medieval alley of St Swithin’s Lane, in the heart of the City, a dense context where OMA’s precise intervention is able to blend and become an active urban piece.
The building, thanks to its structural steel design, is lifted from the ground exposing new situations, connections and views, detonator of a new streetscape where the public realm is as important as the office space above.
You can see Rem Koolhaas and Ellen van Loon discussing this project on a video posted earlier at ArchDaily.
More information courtesy of OMA after the break:
Project: Rothschild Bank Headquarters
Client: NM Rothschild & Sons
Location: St Swithin’s Lane, City of London
Site: New Court, enclosed in cluster of buildings, adjacent to the 17th century St. Stephen Walbrook church; with main entrance on the narrow St. Swithin’s Lane
Program: Office headquarters: 13,000m2
Partners in charge: Rem Koolhaas, Ellen van Loon
Rem Koolhaas and Ellen van Loon discuss their design of the Rothschild Bank headquarters in London. Viewing the bank as a “dynamic system”, the main task was to create an “always efficient and always pleasant” machine that will accommodate all of the Bank’s London staff and reunite its connections with the city, including the St. Stephen’s Walbrook. OMA’s design for the New Court is the fourth iteration of NM Rothschild & Sons’ headquarters, all of which have been built on the dense and narrow medieval alley of St. Swithin’s Lane.
The film was created by Miguel Santa Clara.
De Rotterdam is a unique multifunctional building on the shores of the river Maas on the Wilhelminapier in Rotterdam designed by Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) of Rem Koolhaas. Its remarkable mix of functions makes this building a true vertical city.
By following the construction for 4 years (January 2010 – end of 2013), Ruud Sies presents a photographic report on a very special project in the development of Rotterdam, one that also forms a link to the Wilhelminapier as a historic spot. The full report can be viewed here. More images after the break.
The annual AIAS FORUM meeting for 2011 will take a break from the snow of the past two years (2009 Minnesota, 2010 Toronto) and be held in sunny downtown Phoenix, Arizona. FORUM is the annual meeting of the AIAS and the premier global gathering of architecture and design students. The conference provides students with the opportunity to learn about important issues facing architectural education and the profession, to meet students, educators, and professionals with common interests, and to interact with some of today’s leading architects through keynote addresses, tours, workshops and seminars, last years FORUM was attended by over 1,000 young and ambitious architecture students and AIAS members. This years Keynote Speakers will be Jeffrey Inaba, founder of C-Lab and former project manager with Rem Koolhaas and OMA, Brad Lancaster, author of www.harvestingrainwater.com, and University of Californa, San Diego architect and professor Teddy Cruz.