Rem Koolhaas is a Dutch architect known for his ability to marry the arts of architecture and urban planning, as well as his outside-the-box style. Born November 17, 1944 in Rotterdam, his career took off when he helped found The Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) in 1975. Koolhaas quickly became known for his different approach in a time where postmodern classicism was the prevalent design style. Scholars have a difficult time classifying his style, blending deconstructivism, structuralism, and modernism. Many find his work hard to understand, seemingly a jumbled assortment of unusual silhouettes, unexpected shapes, and hard edges. While his structures at first seem impractical, a closer look reveals an effective use of technology and space, completely reforming the way the world views functionality.
Koolhaas received acclaim for his writings on architecture before he had even build a single structure. His first book, Delirious New York: A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan, was published to great acclaim in 1978. He also published, in conjunction with other OMA partners, S,M,L,XL, a collection of fictional and non-fictional works concerning the contemporary city. “Rem Koolhaas is that rare combination of visionary and implementer, philosopher and pragmatist, theorist and prophet-an architect whose ideas about buildings and urban planning made him one of the most discussed contemporary architects in the world even before any of his design projects came to fruition,” says the Pritzker Prize Jury, who named Koolhaas the Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate in 2000.
Work & Awards
Koolhaas’ work can be viewed almost anywhere in the world. In North and Central America, some of his most famous structures are the Torre Bicentenario in Mexico City, Mexico, the Seattle Central Library in Seattle, Washington, the McCormick Tribune Campus Center, IIT in Chicago, Illinois, the Guggenheim Hermitage Museum in Las Vegas, Nevada, the Second Stage Theatre in New York City, and the Prada retail stores in both Manhattan and Los Angeles. In Asia, Koolhaas’ name can be found on the CCTV HQ in Beijing, China as well as Nexus Housing in Fukuoka, Japan and the Seoul National University Museum of Art in Seoul, North Korea. The majority of his famed works are located in Europe, Koolhaas’ place of birth. The Córdoba International Congress Center in Córdoba, Spain, the Casa da Música, Porto, Portugal, the Netherlands Embassy, Berlin, Germany, the Maison à Bordeaux in Bordeaux, France, the Educatorium in Utrecht, The Netherlands, the Kunsthal in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, Villa dall’Ava in Saint-Cloud, France, the Euralille in Lille, France, and the Netherlands Dance Theater, located in The Hague. His major awards include the 2004 RIBA Gold Medal, the Praemium Imperiale in 2003, the 2000 Pritzker Architecture Prize, and the Doctor Honoris Causa by the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium in 2007.
Today & Tomorrow
Koolhaas is currently a professor at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. He heads offices in Europe (OMA*AMO Rotterdam), North America (OMA*AMO Architecture PC New York) and Asia (OMA Beijing). He will go down in architectural history for his unconventional attitude, unusual urban design tactics, and complete disregard for anything typical or predictable. In a 1996 interview with Wired magazine, Koolhaas said, “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,”