The Life and Work of Rem Koolhaas

Biography

Rem Koolhaas was born in Rotterdam in 1944. He started his career as a screenwriter and journalist at the Haagsche Post. In 1972, he completed his studies in architecture at the Architectural Association in London and in 1975 founded OMA in London together with Madelon Vriesendorp, Elijah Zenghelis and Zoe Zenghelis. In 1980, OMA opened an office in Rotterdam, where it has been headquartered ever since.

OMA initially won fame mainly by winning competitions, such as that for the expansion of the parliament building in The Hague (1987), the Très Grande Bibliothèque (1989) and Jussieu library (1993), both in Paris. Although these projects were not built, they were innovative and excited interest among other architects. Koolhaas was known not only for his remarkable designs, but also for his role as a journalist and writer. In 1978, he published Delirious New York, about the architecture of that city. In 1995, he published S,M,L,XL a collection of the office’s projects to date with texts about the city and the development of architecture. In cooperation with the Harvard Graduate School of Design, he worked on The Harvard Guide to Shopping, an analysis of the role of commerce and consumption in society and architecture, and Great Leap Forward (2002), a study of China’s Pearl River Delta. In the same context he completed studies on Lagos, Roman architecture and the productivity of communism.

Under Koolhaas’ leadership, OMA has recently realised the CCTV headquarters for Chinese state television in Beijing and Milstein Hall for the College for Architecture, Art and Planning at Cornell University, the new headquarters for Rothschild Bank in London, the Wyly Theater in Dallas and the stock exchange in Shenzhen, among other projects. OMA buildings currently under construction include the Taipei Center for the Arts (2016), the new headquarters for G-Star in Amsterdam (2013) and De Rotterdam (2013), a vertical city on the Kop van Zuid.

In 1998, Koolhaas founded AMO, a thinktank which operates in areas including design, media, fashion, politics, sociology, technology, branding, sustainable energy and (contemporary) art. AMO was involved in the research to relocate Schiphol Airport to the North Sea and in visual communication around the European Union. More recently, AMO worked on the exhibitions Cronocaos and Public Works for the Biennale of Architecture in Venice in 2010 and 2012 and participated in the EU Council of the Wise, which gave its advice on the future of the European Union. AMO was also involved in Roadmap 2050, a proposal for a European network for renewable energy, and developed a plan for the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. In addition, AMO is involved in the creation Strelka, a new school of architecture in Moscow, and undertakes various commissions for Prada, such as the design of fashion shows for Prada and Miu Miu, look books and exhibitions.

In the Netherlands, OMA has built the Nederlands Danstheater (1987), the Kunsthal (1992), a public toilet in Groningen in cooperation with Erwin Olaf (1996), the Educatorium in Utrecht (1997), two private villas and the Souterrain tram tunnel in The Hague (2004), among other projects.

Selected projects

CCTV headquarters, Beijing, 2012
Rothschild Bank, London, 2012
Millstein Hall, Cornell, 2010
Maggie’s Centre, Gartnavel, 2010
Wyly Theater, Dallas, 2009
Prada Transformer, Seoul, 2009
Serpentine Pavilion, London, 2006
Zeche Zollverein Museum and masterplan, Essen, 2006
Seoul National University Museum of Art, 2006
Casa da Música, Porto, 2005
Prada Epicentre, New York, 2001
Seattle Central Library, 2004
Souterrain, The Hague, 2004
Embassy of the Netherlands, Berlin, 2003
IIT Campus Center, Chicago, 2003
Hermitage Guggenheim, Las Vegas, 2001
Maison à Bordeaux, 1998
Educatorium, Utrecht, 1997
Euralille Congrexpo and masterplan, 1994
Kunsthal, Rotterdam, 1992
Nexus World Housing, Fukuoka, 1991
Villa d’All Ava, Paris, 1991
Nederlands Dans Theater, The Hague, 1987

Selected books

Project Japan: Metabolism Talks, Taschen, 2010
Al Manakh I en II, Archis, 2007 en 2010
Content, Taschen, 2004
Harvard Guide to Shopping, Taschen 2002
Great Leap Forward, Taschen, 2002
S,M,L,XL, Monacelli, 2005
Delirious New York, Oxford University Press, 1978

Selected exhibitions

(Im)pure, (In)formal, (Un)built, L’Ecoledes Beaux-Arts, Paris, 2011
OMA/Progress, Barbican, London, 2010
Cronocaos, Venice Biennale, 2010
Dubai Next, Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein, 2008
The Gulf, Venice Biennale, 2006
OMA in Beijing, MoMA, New York, 2006
Expansion and Neglect, Venice Biennale, 2005
Image of Europe, Vienna, Brussels, Munich 2004
Content, Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, 2003

Selected teaching appointments

Strelka Institute, Moscow
Professor in Practice of Architecture and Urban Design, Harvard
Architectural Association, London
Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies, New York

Selected prizes and awards

Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement, Venice Biennale, 2010
Mies van der Rohe Award, 2005
RIBA Gold Medal, 2004
Praemium Imperiale, Japan, 2003
Membership Legion d’honneur, 2001
Pritzker Prize, 2000

Education

Architectural Association, London, 1969-1972
Cornell University, 1972-1973