Rem Koolhaas founded the Office for Metropolitan Architecture in 1975 together with Elia and Zoe Zenghelis and Madelon Vriesendorp. Having worked as a journalist and script writer before becoming an architect, Koolhaas graduated from the Architectural Association in London and in 1978 published Delirious New York, a Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan. In 1995, his book S,M,L,XL summarized the work of OMA and established connections between contemporary society and architecture. At this moment Rem Koolhaas is heading the work of OMA as well as AMO - the conceptual branch of OMA, a think tank focused on social, economic, and technological issues.
Rem Koolhaas is a professor at Harvard University where he conducts the Project on the City, a research program investigating changing urban conditions around the world. The projects include a study on China’s Pearl River Delta (published as Great Leap Forward), an analysis of the role of retail and consumption in the contemporary society (The Harvard Guide to Shopping), and studies on Rome, Lagos, Moscow and Beijing.
Recently, OMA has completed the Netherlands Embassy in Berlin, a campus center at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, the Prada Epicenter in Los Angeles and the Public Library in Seattle. The Seattle Library was chosen by TIME Magazine as The Best Architecture for 2004 and was described by the New York Times as: ‘At a dark hour: Seattle’s new Central Library is a blazing chandelier to swing your dreams upon. If an American city can erect a civic project as brave as this one, the sun hasn’t set on the West.’ (May 16th 2004)
In April 2005 the Casa da Musica concert hall in Porto was completed and was already voted as one of the most important concert halls in the world by the New York Times (April 10th 2005). In Asia, work has begun on CCTV - a 575,000m2 headquarters, studio, and cultural center for China’s national broadcaster, China Central Television, in Beijing. CCTV is OMA’s largest building to date, and is to be completed by 2008, in time for the Beijing Olympic Games.
Recent AMO projects include a study for the European Commission on the visual identity of the EU, image restructuring for Condé Nast magazines Lucky and Wired, a study on the future of the automobile for Volkswagen, and a study concerning preservation for the city of Beijing. By combining AMO and OMA Rem Koolhaas is seen as one of the most important thinkers of the last decades. Nicolai Ouroussoff critic for Los Angeles Times underlines this by: ‘There is little question that Rem Koolhaas is one of the most influential architects of the last 20 years. As an architectural thinker, his cool analytic approach to design, sprinkled wit h a healthy skepticism, has informed the profession that his fingerprints can be found on the work of almost any young architect today.’ (May 21st 2004)
The work of Rem Koolhaas and the OMA has been celebrated as well by several international awards, including the Pritzker Architecture Prize (2000) and the RIBA Gold Medal (2004). In 2005 Rem Koolhaas received the Mies van der Rohe Award for the Netherlands Embassy, Berlin. This award is presented every two years by the European Union and the Fundació Mies van der Rohe (Barcelona) to acknowledge and reward quality architectural production in Europe. The jury singled out OMA’s design of the Netherlands Embassy in Berlin for the extraordinary relationship established with its surroundings. In making their decision to award the Netherlands Embassy, the jury commended the “quality of the urban reflection and intelligence of the concept implemented, especially as regards the unprecedented concept of ‘trajectory’ and the new potential it brings to this project of great complexity”. In 2007 The university of Leuven, Belgium, honoured him with a doctorate honoris causa.
Koolhaas’ work was the subject of an overview exhibition, Content, which opened at the Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin in 2003 and at the Kunsthal (built by OMA) in 2004. In conjunction with the exhibition, a book of the same name was published in 2003 by Taschen Books. Content illustrates the ways that Rem Koolhaas and OMA-AMO interact with the world and how the world in turn influences their work. ‘The Image of Europe’, an exhibition by AMO on representation in and the perception of Europe was on display in Brussels and at the Haus der Kunst in Munich. In summer 2005 Rem Koolhaas curated one of the exhibitions titled ‘Expansion & Neglect’ for the prestigious Biennale in Venice.
- Delirious New York, 1978
- S,M,L,XL, 1995
- Content, 2003