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Rem Koolhaas

(b. 1944)


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(1944– ).

Dutch architect, he formed OMA (Office for Metropolitan Architecture) in 1975 with Madelon Vriesendorp and Elia and Zoe Zenghelis, producing a number of visionary and theoretical projects, including ‘Delirious New York’ (1972–6), later published as a book (1978), in which overlapping themes and ideas produced a collage-like effect. Koolhaas and his colleagues have been successful publicists for Deconstructivism and winners of competitions, notably for the National Dance Theatre, The Hague (1981–7), and for several sites in Berlin. His high-rise apartment-block with communal facilities and observation-tower, Rotterdam, The Netherlands (1982), demonstrated his fondness for distorting, engulfing, and twisting form, for it is essentially a row of towers distorted by a slab. Among later works, the Kunsthal, Rotterdam (1987–92), a vast exhibition-building bisected by an entranceramp, and featuring deliberately rough concrete on some façades, may be mentioned. The gigantic Grand Palais and master-plan for Euralille (a shopping-centre, conference, concert and exhibition-halls, and many other facilities at Lille, France (1989–96), on a major station of the Eurostar rail-link between London, Brussels, and Paris, is one of his largest projects. Like several architects of his generation, Koolhaas has favoured sharp corners and an abrasive manner towards context (ignoring it for the most part). Curiously, in Las Vegas, NV, USA (perhaps the world-capital of Kitsch), OMA designed a restrained, even Minimalist, Art Museum (2000–2), and its Prada Epicentre Shop, Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, CA (2003–4), is also quietly subtle. The firm also designed the Royal Netherlands Embassy, Berlin (2000–3), the gigantic headquarters for China Central Television (2003–8), and the Books Building (2004), both in Beijing, the City Library, Seattle, WA (2001–4), and, with others (including Alsop, Chipperfield, and Portzamparc), what he termed ‘corrections’ for the new town of Almere, Netherlands (from 1997). His writings, like his lectures, are somewhat opaque: many find them profound.

Anno Domini (In the Year of (Our) Lord), i.e. any year since the reputed birth of Christ from AD 1 onwards, xlvii/5 (1977), Profile 5, 315–27;Amsoneit (1994);Cuito (ed.) (2002b);Kalman (1994);Jodidio (1995a);Johnson & Wigley (1988);Lampugnani (ed.) (1988);Lucan (ed.) (1991);O M Amsoneit et al. (1995)

Subjects: Architecture.


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