12 Classic Koolhaas Quotes

12 Classic Koolhaas Quotes
© wyly wonderment

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

About this author
Cite: Vanessa Quirk. "12 Classic Koolhaas Quotes" 17 Nov 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/294325/happy-birthday-rem-koolhaas> ISSN 0719-8884

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