Rem Koolhaas

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Rem Koolhaas

Rem Koolhaas in 2005
Personal information
Name Rem Koolhaas
Nationality Dutch
Birth date 17 November 1944 (1944-11-17) (age 64)
Birth place Rotterdam, Netherlands
Alma mater Netherlands Film and Television Academy, Architectural Association School of Architecture, Cornell University
Practice name Office for Metropolitan Architecture
Significant buildings Casa da Música in Porto

Seattle Central Library
Netherlands Embassy Berlin

Significant projects Volume Magazine
Awards and prizes Pritzker Prize (2000)
Praemium Imperiale (2003)
Royal Gold Medal (2004)

Remment Lucas Koolhaas, IPA['rɛm 'kɔːlhas], (born 17 November 1944(1944-11-17)) is a Dutch architect, architectural theorist, urbanist and "Professor in Practice of Architecture and Urban Design" at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University, USA. Koolhaas studied at the Netherlands Film and Television Academy in Amsterdam, at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London and at Cornell University in New York. Koolhaas is the principal of the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, or OMA, and of its research-oriented counterpart AMO, currently based in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. In 2005 he co-founded Volume Magazine together with Mark Wigley and Ole Bouman.

In 2000 Rem Koolhaas won the Pritzker Prize. In 2008 Time put him in their top 100 of The World's Most Influential People.[1]


[edit] Early life and career

Remment Koolhaas, usually abbreviated to Rem Koolhaas, was born on 17 November 1944 in Rotterdam, Netherlands to Anton Koolhaas (1912–1992) and Selinde Pietertje Roosenburg (born 1920). His father was a novelist, critic, and screenwriter. Two documentary films by Bert Haanstra for which his father wrote the scenarios were nominated for an Academy Award for Documentary Feature, one won a Golden Bear for Short Film. His maternal grandfather, Dirk Roosenburg (1887–1962), was a modernist architect. His grandfather had worked for Hendrik Petrus Berlage, before he opened his own practice. Rem Koolhaas has a brother, Thomas, and a sister, Annabel. The family lived consecutively in Rotterdam (until 1946), Amsterdam (1946–1952), Jakarta (1952–1955), and Amsterdam (from 1955).[2][3][4]

His father had strongly supported the Indonesian cause for autonomy from the colonial Dutch in his writing. When the war of independence was won, he had been invited over to run a cultural programme for three years and the family moved to Jakarta in 1952. "It was a very important age for me," Koolhaas recalls, "and I really lived as an Asian."[5]

Koolhaas first studied scriptwriting at the Netherlands Film and Television Academy in Amsterdam. Koolhaas co-wrote The White Slave, a 1969 Dutch film noir, and later wrote an unproduced script for American soft-porn king Russ Meyer.[6]

He then was a journalist for the Haagse Post before starting studies, in 1968, in architecture at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London, followed, in 1972, by further studies at Cornell University in New York.

Koolhaas first came to public and critical attention with OMA (The Office for Metropolitan Architecture), the office he founded in 1975 together with architects Elia Zenghelis, Zoe Zenghelis and (Koolhaas's wife) Madelon Vriesendorp in London. They were later joined by one of Koolhaas's students, Zaha Hadid - who would soon go on to achieve success in her own right. An early work which would mark their difference from the then dominant postmodern classicism of the late 1970s, was their contribution to the Venice Biennale of 1980, curated by Italian architect Paolo Portoghesi, titled "Presence of the Past". Each architect had to design a stage-like "frontage" to a Potemkin-type internal street; and the OMA scheme was the only modernist scheme among them.

Other early critically received (yet unbuilt) projects included the Parc de la Villette, Paris (1982) and the residence for the President of Ireland (1981). The first large project by OMA to be built was the Kunsthal in Rotterdam (1992). These schemes would attempt to put into practice many of the findings Koolhaas made in his book Delirious New York (1978),[7] which was written while he was a visiting scholar at the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies in New York, directed by Peter Eisenman.[8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22][23][24][25][26][27]

In october 2008 Rem Koolhaas was invited for a European "group of the wise" under the chairmanship of former Spanish prime minister Felipe Gonzalez to help 'design' the future European Union. Other members include Nokia chairman Jorma Ollila, former European Commissioner Mario Monti and former president of Poland Lech Walesa[28][29]

[edit] Theoretical position

[edit] Delirious New York

Delirious New York set the pace for Koolhaas's career. His work emphatically embraces the contradictions of two disciplines (architecture and urban design) that have struggled to maintain their humanist ideals of material honesty, the human scale and carefully crafted meaning in a rapidly globalising world that espouses material economy, machine scale and random meaning. Instead, Koolhaas celebrates the "chance-like" nature of city life: "The City is an addictive machine from which there is no escape." As Koolhaas himself has acknowledged, this approach had already been evident in the Japanese Metabolist Movement in the 1960s and early 1970s.

Seattle Central Library, designed by OMA

Another key aspect of architecture Koolhaas interrogates is the "Program": with the rise of modernism in the 20th century the "Program" became the key theme of architectural design. The notion of the Program involves "an act to edit function and human activities" as the pretext of architectural design: epitomised in the maxim Form follows function, first popularised by architect Louis Sullivan and Nicolas Cisneros at the beginning of the 20th century. The notion was first questioned in Delirious New York, in his analysis of high-rise architecture in Manhattan. An early design method derived from such thinking was "cross-programming", introducing unexpected functions in room programmes, such as running tracks in skyscrapers. More recently, Koolhaas (unsuccessfully) proposed the inclusion of hospital units for the homeless into the Seattle public Library project (2003).

[edit] S,M,L,XL

The next landmark publication by Koolhaas was S,M,L,XL, together with Bruce Mau, Jennifer Sigler, and Hans Werlemann (1995),[30]a 1376-page tome combining essays, manifestos, diaries, fiction, travelogues, and meditations on the contemporary city. The layout of the huge book transformed architectural publishing, and such books - full-colour graphics and dense texts - have since become common. Ostensibly, S,M,L,XL gives a record of the actual implementation of "Manhattanism" throughout the various (mostly un-) realized projects and texts OMA had generated up to that time. The part lexicon-type layout (with a marginal "dictionary" composed by Jennifer Sigler, who also edited the book) spawned a number of concepts that have become common in later architectural theory, in particular "Bigness": 'old' architectural principles (composition, scale, proportion, detail) no longer apply when a building acquires Bigness. This was demonstrated in OMA's scheme for the development of "Euralille" (1990-94), a new centre for the city of Lille in France, a city returned to prominence by its position on the new rail route from Paris to London via the Channel Tunnel. OMA sited a train station, two centres for commerce and trade, an urban park, and 'Congrexpo' (a contemporary Grand Palais with a large concert hall, three auditoria and an exhibition space). In another essay in the book, titled "The Generic City", Koolhaas declares that progress, identity, architecture, the city and the street are things of the past: “Relief … it’s over. That is the story of the city. The city is no longer. We can leave the theatre now...” For Koolhaas architecture and the city are said to be superseded by Bigness.

[edit] Project on the city

Netherlands Embassy in Berlin, Germany, opened in 2004. Koolhaas's design won the Architekturpreis Berlin in 2003 and the Mies van der Rohe Award for European Architecture in 2005.

Koolhaas's next landmark publications were a product of his position as professor at Harvard University, in the design school's "Project on the City"; firstly the 720-page Mutations,[31] followed by The Harvard Design School Guide to Shopping (2002)[32] and The Great Leap Forward (2002).[33] All three books involved Koolhaas's students analysing what others would regard as "non-cities", sprawling conglomerates such as Lagos in Nigeria, west Africa, which the authors argue are highly functional despite a lack of infrastructure. The authors also examine the influence of shopping habits and the recent rapid growth of cities in China. Critics of the books have criticised Koolhaas for being cynical - as if Western capitalism and globalization demolish all cultural identity - highlighted in the notion expounded in the books that "In the end, there will be little else for us to do but shop". However, such cynicism can alternatively be read as a "realism" about the transformation of cultural life, where airports and even museums (due to finance problems) rely just as much on operating gift shops.

When it comes to transforming these observations into practice, Koolhaas mobilizes what he regards as the omnipotent forces of urbanism into unique design forms and connections organised along the lines of present day society. Koolhaas continuously incorporates his observations of the contemporary city within his design activities: calling such a condition the ‘culture of congestion’. Again, shopping is examined for "intellectual comfort", whilst the unregulated taste and densification of Chinese cities is analysed according to "performance", a criterion involving variables with debatable credibility: density, newness, shape, size, money etc. For example, in his design for the new CCTV headquarters in Beijing (2006, under construction), Koolhaas did not opt for the stereotypical skyscraper, often used to symbolise and landmark such government enterprises, but instead designed a series of volumes which not only tie together the numerous departments onto the nebulous site, but also introduced routes (again, the concept of cross-programming) for the general public through the site, allowing them some degree of access to the production procedure. Through his ruthlessly raw approach, Koolhaas hopes to extract the architect from the anxiety of a dead profession and resurrect a contemporary sublime, however fleeting it may be.

In 2003 Content, a 544-page magazine-style book was published by Koolhaas, giving an overview of the last decade of OMA projects[34] including his designs for the Prada shops, the Seattle Public Library, a plan to save Cambridge from Harvard by rechanneling the Charles River, Lagos' future as Earth's third-biggest town, as well as interviews with Martha Stewart and Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown.

[edit] OMA

In the late nineties, while working on the design for the new headquarters for Universal (currently Vivendi), OMA was first exposed to the full pace of change that engulfed the world of media and with it the increasing importance of the virtual domain. It led Rem Koolhaas and the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) to create a new company, AMO, exclusively dedicated to the investigation and performance in this realm. He is heading the think tank ever since with Reinier de Graaf.

[edit] Volume Magazine

In 2005 Rem Koolhaas co-founded Volume Magazine together with Mark Wigley and Ole Bouman. Volume Magazine - the collaborative project by Archis (Amsterdam), AMO Rotterdam and C-lab (Columbia University NY) - is a dynamic experimental think tank devoted to the process of spatial and cultural reflexivity. It goes beyond architecture’s definition of ‘making buildings’ and reaches out for global views on architecture and design, broader attitudes to social structures, and creating environments to live in. Volume Magazine creates the agenda. The magazine stands for a journalism which detects and anticipates, is proactive and even pre-emptive - a journalism which uncovers potentialities, rather than covering done deals.

[edit] European Flag proposal

European Flag proposal
The 'barcode', a Koolhaas proposal for the flag of the European Union became the logo of the 2006 Austrian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Following the signing of Treaties of Nice in May 2001, which made Brussels the de facto capital of the Europe Union, the then President of the European Commission, Romano Prodi and the Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt invited Koolhaas to discuss the necessities and requirements of a European capital.

During these talks and as an impetus for further discussion, Koolhaas and his think-tank AMO – an independent part of OMA – suggested the development of a visual language. This idea inspired a series of drawings and drafts, including the "Barcode". The barcode seeks to unite the flags of the EU member countries into a single, colourful symbol. In the current European flag, there is a fixed number of stars. In the barcode however, new Member States of the EU can be added without space constraints. Originally, the barcode displayed 15 EU countries. In 2004, the symbol was adapted to include the ten new Member States.

Since the time of the first drafts of the barcode it has very rarely been officially used by commercial or political institutions. During the Austrian EU Presidency 2006 it was officially used for the first time. The logo has already been used for the EU information campaign which will also be continued during the Austrian EU Presidency. There was initially some uproar caused, as the stripes of the flag of Estonia were displayed incorrectly.

[edit] Architecture, Fashion, and Theatre

Prada, Beverly Hills
Second Stage Theatre, New York

With his Prada projects, Koolhaas ventured into providing architecture for the fleeting world of fashion and with celebrity-studded cachet: not unlike Garnier's Opera, the central space of Koolhaas' Beverly Hills Prada store is occupied by a massive central staircase, ostensibly displaying select wares, but mainly the shoppers themselves. The notion of selling a brand rather than marketing clothes was further emphasised in the Prada store in New York, which had previously been owned by the MOMA: the museum signs were not removed during the outfitting of the new store, as if emphasizing the premises as a cultural institution.[35]

Prior to his Prada project in New York, Koolhaas was behind another remodeling project on the other side of town. Koolhaas redesigned a 1929 bank and transformed it into a one-of-a-kind, 296 seat, performance space for Second Stage Theatre.

[edit] 21st Century Office

At the moment Koolhaas' constructions sites are in China: the massive Central China Television Headquarters Building in Beijing, China, and the new building for the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, the equivalent of the NASDAQ in China.

Recently he has changed the organization of his office to a partnership. Partners next to him are Ole Scheeren, Ellen van Loon, Reinier de Graaf, Shohei Shigeimatsu and managing partner Victor van der Chijs.

Koolhaas now heads offices in Europe (OMA*AMO Rotterdam), North America (OMA*AMO Architecture PC New York) and Asia (OMA Beijing).

OMA Rotterdam: the head office is working on a master plan for the White City area of London; a harbour redevelopment and contemporary art Museum in Riga, the Cordoba Congress Centre in Spain; the redevelopment of the Mercati Generali in Rome, an architectural centre, offices and housing in Copenhagen, the new head office of Rothschild Bank in London and multi-use towers in Rotterdam and The Hague. It is also working on various masterplans in The Netherlands and Belgium and shopping centres in Rotterdam and Ostrava. In addition the Rotterdam office has a number of activities in the Middle East including office and residential towers and master plans in Dubai, three master plans in Ras -Al-Khaimah and several public buildings in Qatar. With his Rotterdam office Koolhaas is also designing a science center for Hamburg’s Hafencity.

OMA New York: the office in Manhattan Koolhaas is leading by Shohei Shigematsu is now designing an extension of Cornell University (NY), 111 First Street, a high rise residential building and hotel in Jersey City (NJ) and a high end residential tower with CAA screening room at One Madison Park in NYC.

OMA Beijing: In Asia, Koolhaas is working with his team on the office’s largest project to date, the 575,000 m2 China Central Television Headquarters (CCTV) and Television Cultural Center (TVCC), currently under construction in Beijing and due for completion in 2008. (However, the TVCC was damaged by an enormous fire in 2009.) Other projects in development include the new Shenzhen Stock Exchange and a lush residential tower and residential masterplan in Singapore.

[edit] Quotes

A southbound Green Line train passing through the stainless steel tube shielding the McCormick Tribune Campus Center. Nicknamed the BUTT for "Building Under The Tracks"
  • Reference to the article 'Generic city', a critic to current mode of urbanization: "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 4.07, July 1996 [36]
  • Asked if there is a certain contribution he aspires to make: "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? I think that S,M,L,XL has one beautiful ambiguity: it used the past to build a future and is very adamant about giving notice that this is not the end. That's how it felt to me, anyway. That is in itself evidence of a kind of discomfort with achievement measured in terms of identifiable entities, and an announcement that continuity of thinking in whatever form, around whatever subject, is the real ambition." —interview in Index Magazine, 2000[37]

[edit] Awards

[edit] List of projects

Casa da Música, Porto, Portugal

Koolhaas's projects include:

[edit] Bibliography

[edit] References

  1. ^ Lacayo, Richard. "Rem Koolhaas". Time Retrieved on 2008-05-12.,28804,1733748_1733752_1735981,00.html. 
  2. ^ (Dutch) Moor, Wam de (2008-03-13). "Koolhaas, Anthonie (1912-1992)". Biografisch Woordenboek van Nederland. Instituut voor Nederlandse Geschiedenis. Retrieved on 2008-05-14. 
  3. ^ (Dutch) "Anthonie Koolhaas". De Boekenweek. Retrieved on 2008-05-14. 
  4. ^ (Dutch) Anker, Eva van den. "Dirk Roosenburg". Archipedia. Architectenweb. Retrieved on 2008-05-14. 
  5. ^ Adams, Tim (25 June 2006). "Metropolis Now". The Observer, Guardian Unlimited.,,1803857,00.html. 
  6. ^ Becker, Lynn (10 Oct 2007). "Oedipus Rem.". Repeat: Writings on Architecture. 
  7. ^ Rem Koolhaas, Delirious New York: A retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan (Academy Editions, London, 1978; republished, The Monacelli Press, 1994)
  8. ^ Office for Metropolitan Architecture
  9. ^ Online profile and projects of Office for Metropolitan Architecture
  10. ^ Mutations. Barcelona: Actar. 2001. ISBN 978-84-95273-51-2. 
  11. ^ 'Welcome to the future', The Guardian, 27 August 2007
  12. ^ Volume Magazine
  13. ^ Harvard Design School Faculty Profile
  14. ^ Article on Rem Koolhaas
  15. ^ List of projects Rem Koolhaas
  16. ^ Links on Rem Koolhaas
  17. ^ Rem Koolhaas |
  18. ^ Hal Foster: Rem Koolhaas
  19. ^ Interview Interview (2000)
  20. ^ Wired Interview (07/1996)
  21. ^ images of several OMA projects
  22. ^ BBC News |On Koolhaas' flag proposal
  23. ^ FOTW |Entry on flag proposal
  24. ^ Serpentine Pavilion 2006 Images
  25. ^ Casa da Musica photo essay and info at KultureFlash
  26. ^ Time alters perspective on Koolhaas this article by architecture critic Blair Kamin appeared in the Chicago Tribune website (Published November 26, 2006). Now archived at their site
  27. ^ Welcome to the future article appeared August 27, 2007 at The Guardian website. This article's summary reads: " Any self-respecting world city now needs outlandish buildings, but what about the past? Superstar architect Rem Koolhaas tells Jonathan Glancey why even he gets nostalgic."
  28. ^ Article in German newspaper Der Spiegel 30/10/2008
  29. ^ Article in Irish newspaper Irish Times 16/10/2008
  30. ^ Rem Koolhaas, Hans Werlemann and Bruce Mau, S,M,L,XL, The Monacelli Press, New York, 1994 (2nd edition 1997)
  31. ^ Rem Koolhaas, Stefano Boeri, Sanford Kwinter, Daniela Fabricius, Hans Ulrich Obrist, and Nadia Tazi, Mutations, Arc en rêve centre d’architecture, Bordeaux, 2001. ISBN 8495273519.
  32. ^ Rem Koolhaas, Chuihua Judy Chung, Jeffrey Inaba, and Sze Tsung Leong, The Harvard Design School Guide to Shopping. Harvard Design School Project on the City 2, Taschen, New York, 2002
  33. ^ Rem Koolhaas, Bernard Chang, Mihai Craciun, Nancy Lin, Yuyang Liu, Katherine Orff, and Stephanie Smith, The Great Leap Forward. Harvard Design School Project on the City, Taschen, New York, 2002
  34. ^ Rem Koolhaas, Content, Taschen, New York, 2003
  35. ^ Anette Baldauf, "Branded", in Learning from Calvin Klein, Umbau 21, 2004.
  36. ^ From Bauhaus to Koolhaas
  37. ^ Rem Koolhaas, 2000
  38. ^ 23 East 22nd Street by OMA
  39. ^ Bryghusprojektet - The Brewery Site Project
  40. ^ official site in Spanish
  41. ^ "Delirious New York". Office for Metropolitan Architecture. Retrieved on 2008-05-18. 
  42. ^ "SMLXL". Office for Metropolitan Architecture. Retrieved on 2008-05-18. 
  43. ^ "Living Vivre Leben". Office for Metropolitan Architecture. Retrieved on 2008-05-18. 
  44. ^ "Content". Office for Metropolitan Architecture. Retrieved on 2008-05-18. 

[edit] External links

NAME Koolhaas, Rem
ALTERNATIVE NAMES Koolhaas, Remment (full name)
DATE OF BIRTH 17 November 1944
PLACE OF BIRTH Rotterdam, Netherlands
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