Posts tagged with "Rem Koolhaas":

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How to survive an ecological apocalypse: the architect’s guide

The Continuous City: Fourteen Essays on Architecture and Urbanization Lars Lerup Park Books, 2017 $39.00 Lars Lerup, the Swedish-American designer and writer, has published a new book. The Continuous City (Park Books, 2017) presents his latest thoughts on architecture, cities, and the people who inhabit them by way of 14 disparate but interconnected essays. The handsome volume is bound in a matte cover featuring René Magritte’s painting Panorama Populaire (1926), which depicts buildings, a forest, and a seashore stacked atop each other, the ground plane of each upper level sawed away to reveal the strata beneath. The picture turns out to be a perfect signpost for what lies within, as its suggestion that these (and other) seemingly discrete realms are inextricably linked is precisely the crux of Lerup’s otherwise episodic inquiry. Lerup’s two previous titles—One Million Acres & No Zoning (Architectural Association Publications, 2011) and After the City (MIT Press, 2001)—took on the postindustrial car city as a subject of serious study. They look beyond the European-oriented urbanist’s dismissal of such environments as merely “sprawl” to find and examine the often-surreal juxtapositions embedded within that type of built fabric. Both books show Lerup’s fascination with Houston, where he first moved in 1993 from Berkeley, California, to take the job of dean at the Rice School of Architecture, a position he held until 2009. He is currently a professor there. Houston was to architecture in the 1980s what Dubai is to the field today—a petro-capital spending big money on ambitious development projects without paying much attention to the rules. Lerup’s championing of this subject matter in architectural academia (his has been one voice—there are others) has done much to save the discipline from self-inflicted obsolescence, an observation driven home by the fact that approximately 80 percent of currently existing global urban environments are designed and constructed around the automobile. His leadership also supported and propelled other academics who have done important work in this area, including Rice colleague Albert Pope, whose seminal volume, Ladders (Princeton Architectural Press, 1996), laid the groundwork for serious consideration of the postwar American city, and former Rice assistant professor Keith Krumwiede, whose latest book, Atlas of Another America: An Architectural Fiction (Park Books, 2016), explores speculative futures of suburbia. Another of Lerup’s preoccupations is subjectivity. In the 1970s, during a sabbatical from UC Berkeley, Peter Eisenman invited him to the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies in New York (Rem Koolhaas was writing Delirious New York just down the hall). Lerup’s design work exhibits ties to that lineage of formal exploration and defamiliarization, but where Eisenman seeks to liberate architecture from the user, Lerup’s ambition has been to explore the problems of the urban inhabitant. For example, he did several years of research with the National Bureau of Standards in Washington, D.C., on how people in nursing homes panic and escape buildings that are on fire. The result was a series of publications compiled into Learning from Fire: A Fire Protection Primer for Architects, composed of a series of hand-drawn comic strips that depict nurses and patients reacting to infernos. In Continuous City, Lerup says hello to the Anthropocene. Quoting from the introduction: “The Anthropocene brings with it the realization that we live in a new (catastrophic) geological era of our own making. This is no longer a squabble between liberty or community, but a need to avert disaster. Lacking easy answers, we now seek opportunities for change, skirting the dark side of the new city, which the earlier books dealt with, to find in architecture a device for positive movement forward.” He argues that conceptual distinctions between urban and suburban, or urban and rural, are no longer productive. “The urban,” he writes, “is inescapable. The city is everywhere.” Lerup’s hunt for constructive examples takes the reader on a journey that spans the globe and delves into the history of human settlement. He establishes links between the plan of Teotihuacán and OMA’s Seattle library, investigates the coexistence of natural and built environments in the work of Roberto Burle Marx, considers the synergies of Herzog & de Meuron’s Miami garage, and worries the uneasy relationship between users’ topological experience and the planner’s topographic approach. His findings are as revelatory as they are perturbing. If humankind is to survive the era of global warming (the Anthropocene’s most threatening result), there remains much more work to be done.
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Rem Koolhaas calls L.A. a “prototype” for the future of cities

In a recent interview with Nathan Gardels of The Washington Post, theorist-architect Rem Koolhaas spells out his updated vision for the future of global urbanism, describing a type of multi-nodal and highly-resilient conurbation that, at least according to Koolhaas, might look a lot like Los Angeles does today.  The wide-ranging interview covers a variety of topics, including the creeping threat of the "digital city" and whether the architect would be able to build his iconic CCTV tower in China today given tightened formal controls on new development—he says not in Beijing, but perhaps in Shenzhen—among other provocative issues.  But what stands out most is what Koolhaas sees as the future of global urbanization, as the “generic” postmodern city he detailed in works like S,M,L,XL undergoes existential change in the age of Donald Trump and global nationalism. According to Koolhaas, the various urban manifestations of generic international development have started to diverge into highly localized and diffuse variants. Koolhaas complains that despite the prolific growth of urban areas over the last thirty years, societies are currently doing a poor job preparing for an uncertain future. Koolhaas blames a reliance on the market economy and its attendant excesses as a prime driver for this type of impotence, saying, “For me, the issue is not about the inefficiency of democracies versus efficient autocracies but how and where a society wants to allocate its resources. It is really a matter of ideology, of whether the interests of the market or the society as a whole are the priority." Decrying the demise of “strong state capacity” to get massive works of infrastructure and urbanization built, Koolhaas takes aim at the inability of the contemporary city to deliver necessary and vital transformative projects and services just as the localizing forces of globalization take root. Koolhaas says, “It is ironic that just as people want to see a built environment that reflects who they are, what we are seeing in much of the world is that urban planning is scarcely possible because market economies are not generating the necessary funds for it. Any major project of public interest, including even precautions against hurricanes in coastal regions of America, can’t get done.” The Dutch architect is unclear about whether or how cities will persevere through this crisis, but nevertheless has recast the generic, profuse city that sprawls into and out of the countryside as an apt model for absorbing future instabilities. Koolhaas points directly to the Dutch courbation known as Randstad, where he resides, and to Los Angeles as sources for potential solutions:
WorldPost: You’ve traveled the world many times over and built all over. In your view, what cities are most prepared to face the future? Koolhaas: I have lived for 30 years in either New York and London, but now I’m living in Randstad [a metropolis consisting of the four largest Dutch cities, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht]. It is a bit bizarre for me. There are no dominant cities but together the whole area is connected in a kind of metropolitan field. All the facilities and amenities you’d find in a city are here but decentralized across the whole zone. It is kind of an extended city not dependent on coherence or adjustment of each of the parts to each other. Yet it is able to sustain itself as a connected entity — kind of like a collage. So I would say cities like this that are more open and not so complex to operate are best prepared for whatever the future throws at them. Los Angeles is the prototype of this kind of habitat for the future.
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Rem Koolhaas is leading a workshop to make the EU cool again

Say what you want about the European Union (pipe down, Brexit people) but nobody is praising its branding these days. EU officials know this and have commissioned none other than Rem Koolhaas to help reform its image in this time of nationalist and anti-globalist pushback. Koolhaas and German photographer Wolfgang Tillmans earlier this year put out a call for ideas to essentially re-brand Europe, and this week they are hosting Eurolab, a four-day workshop at the Forum on European Culture in Amsterdam to hone the best of these schemes. According to Eurolab's website, this will be a "4-day fact-finding mission exploring what has gone wrong in the last 25 years of communicating Europe and how to make a new start." Yoeri Albrecht, one of the forum’s organizers, told the New York Times that it was “a kind of jam session for the greatest cultural thinkers in Europe to tinker and work with the idea of Europe." Koolhaas told the Times that he wanted “to find a crystal clear language to talk about Europe and to give it a more coherent narrative.” He added: “I think that inevitably we also need to look at what’s causing this kind of persistent problem of the difficulty of communicating about Europe." The group plans to share their ideas after the workshop completes on June 3, presenting a "comprehensive toolbox of ideas, visuals and strategies that can be used to communicate the EU in times of rising nationalism, populism and the growing support of far-right parties." That's no small feat. Good luck, Europe.
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Prada’s OMA-designed Torre is unveiled during Milan Design Week

A new profile rises almost 200 feet above the tangled web of railroad tracks cutting across southern Milan, dominating the otherwise flat skyline. Following the white concrete nine-story beacon to its source will land you in the OMA-designed Prada Foundation, officially inaugurated in 2015 (the tower was originally scheduled to open at this time). As the final notch in the Prada family’s campus–which boasts a pastel-soaked Wes Anderson-designed cafe-bar, a mirrored cinema, and a gold-leaf-encrusted “Haunted House” amid the century-old refurbished warehouses–Torre, the long-delayed tower is an appropriately startling final act for a foundation that intends to “activate and challenge the senses,” according to its Press Officer Nicolo Scialanga. “It’s not a passive building,” OMA’s Federico Pompignoli says simply of the tower. Working with Rem Koolhaas and Chris van Duijn, Pompignoli has overseen every conceivable aspect of the Foundation’s design since the start of the firm’s collaboration with the Prada family, even moving to the Italian city in 2013 to be closer to the construction. “Instead, every single space becomes a special occasion, an opportunity to curate oneself.” We are sitting on the cantilevering terrace outside the sixth-floor restaurant on perfect Milanese afternoon. The furniture flanks the glassy wall, which retreats to the original alignments of the building while exposing the bar inside. As the triangular terrace narrows, it meets the glass wall at what Pompignoli refers to as the “total convergence point” of the building. It’s among his favorite details in the zig-zagging tower. “We are not fans of the white cube,” admits Pompignoli. “So when Miuccia Prada gave us a brief to develop a building responding to this display condition, we responded with a series of vertical variations that test the architecture as well as the art.” But to merely call the building idiosyncratic would be to ignore the calculated irregularity of the building, which plays out through three main conditions. The floor shape, height, and orientation are used “as axonometrics” to develop nine floors that are “completely different” from each other, suggests Pompignoli. The result is sort of like an architectural Rubik’s Cube, where each floor’s unique style can play out independently and in unexpected ways while remaining rooted to the others through the building’s concrete core. “It’s an attempt at the white cube defying its own boringness,” says Pompignoli. The result is a space that not only stretches vertically, but somehow also through all directions at once. The windows start at under nine feet tall on the first floor and expand to nearly three times this height by the top level. This plasticity creates a sense of mounting anticipation (perhaps a more fitting name here than their recent Parisian project) through not just expanding space but also ever-increasing light. Ascending the tower, the grassy abandon of the railway tracks is replaced by Milan’s receding skyscrapers to the north, which ultimately yield to the brilliant blue sky by the time you hit the restaurant on the sixth floor. Cool light washes over the kitsch interiors of the restaurant, featuring ceramic pieces by Lucio Fontana; it’s more bourgeois Italian Grandma than bleak white cube minimalism. “Like the Prada Foundation at large, the tower is a vertical sequence of surprises and challenges,” suggests Pompignioli. This sensation is magnified by the dynamic floorplan and orientation of the six floors of gallery space, which alternates the glass side from north to east on each floor while maintaining the same silhouette. As you linger in the galleries to take in the art–a sampling of Miuccia Prada’s contemporary collection, ranging from impaled cadillacs by Walter De Maria to Carsten Höller’s magic twirling mushrooms–each level of the tower feels like a new space, without requiring (or justifying) an explanation. Thankfully, OMA seems less than interested in revealing the logic behind their magic tricks of space and light, preferring, like the tower, to leave much up in the air. This motif plays out in another of the architect’s favorite spots: the “ghost” scissored staircase backlit with two-tone millennial pink fluorescence, and where a sheet of glass separates two sets of public and emergency stairs–one white, the other gray– that never meet. In addition to the vertical expansion, OMA’s surprises also lie in the details: like the bathrooms on the second and eighth floors. I start to protest about the cladding detail in the first-floor bathrooms, where individual mirrored stalls open into a trippy black and lime green gridded washroom that conceals the door leading to the toilets. His response is just about as close as you can get to a riddle without telling one: “It could be true that we should make the handles a bit more clear, but it is also true that if you find yourself in a toilet, somewhere there should be a door.” Ultimately, the tower is a space where the curious and the wanderers will be rewarded. In this sense, it is a decisive contrast to the standard operating logic of the white cube. There’s also plenty of moments for second glances–like the view from the staircase between the sixth and seventh floors, which gives a spectacular view down to the tower’s burly support beam that anchors into the rooftop of a century-old distillery warehouse–and for serendipitous encounter, like an apparent dead-end that leads into the second floor’s gallery space (where Jeff Koons’ bouquet of candy-colored steel tulips is presented like a reward). Above all, there’s a feeling of triumph that hits when you stumble out onto the restaurant terrace–out of breath and disoriented from the climb up the staircase–and you are rewarded with a panoramic view of Milan’s skyline. “The rooftop terrace is the last surprise of this tower,” explains Pompignioli. “For us, it’s another opportunity for public programming, a place to go that’s not necessarily linked to the art.” A closer look at the surface of terrace reveals the exact same type of brick used on to pave Prada Foundation’s outdoor campus some 60 meters below: a public space that can be accessed without buying a ticket to the exhibitions. With its own entrance directly from the street, the restaurant connects the Foundation to the rest of the city in unprecedented ways. “Here, we are inviting the city to see itself from an entirely new perspective.”
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The Architecture and Design Film Festival returns to Los Angeles this weekend

The Architecture and Design Film Festival (ADFF) has returned to Los Angeles over this last week and will continue into the weekend. In total, the film showcase will present over 30 architecture-related short-length and feature films that cover topics as diverse as the career of Frank Gehry, the works of Czech glassmakers LASVIT, and speculative student work from Liam Young and the Southern California Institute of Architecture’s M.A. in Fiction and Entertainment program. The traveling film festival will also showcase films on Bjarke Ingles, founder of BIG, and the life and career of Swiss architect Albert Frey. Saturday will see the presentation of the film The Experimental City, a film covering the storied history of the Minnesota Experimental City, a domed futuristic settlement for 250,000 people created to prevent sprawl. A screening of the film will be followed by a panel discussion. Sunday’s offerings meanwhile, will include a double-feature that includes films on Greg Murcutt and Jean Nouvel. Other presented films over the course of the festival include a feature-length movie on the life of Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, a documentary and panel discussion on Britain’s Maggie’s Homes program, and a documentary on the work of pioneering Mexican-American architectural photographer Pedro E. Guerrero. See the ADFF website for more information.
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Koolhaas and Herzog & de Meuron venture into fashion design for Prada

Prada has thrown its 2018 fall menswear collection back to the 90’s, with a fashion show in Milan that put utilitarian black nylon front and center. Rem Koolhaas, Herzog & de Meuron, French designers Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec, and German industrial designer Konstantin Grcic were all invited to interpret the material through an industrial lens to create a unique item for the collection. Fashion designer Miuccia Prada’s rise to fame was built on black nylon in 1984; in weaving nylon, typically used for packaging at the time and not clothing, into the landmark luxury “Vela” bag, Prada transformed the luxury brand into a contemporary clothing company. The same waterproof “Pocone” nylon used in the original Vela bag was on full display yesterday at Prada’s preview of its Autumn Winter 2018 menswear collection in Milan. Instead of flash or color, the focus was on form and usage, and the menswear fashion week show was appropriately staged in an industrial warehouse with a Prada twist. The storage facility in Viale Ortles, Milan, was plastered with throwbacks to Prada’s past and lit with blues, reds and purples by AMO, the research and branding studio of OMA. This isn’t the first time AMO has worked with Prada, as they also designed Prada’s 2017 Spring/Summer venue. OMA founding principal Rem Koolhaas contributed a backwards backpack to the show, designing a black nylon pack meant to be worn on the front of the body. The boxy container is meant to be first and foremost accessible, as Koolhaas notes that the convenience of a backpack is negated by having to take it off to access. “The shape of the backpack has the convenience of flexibility, the location–the back–the huge inconvenience that it is fundamentally inaccessible to the wearer,” Koolhaas told Prada. In the same way the Vela bag advanced the backpack through material, Koolhaas’s pack was meant to be the next step forward in the bag’s shape. Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron chose to focus on the clothing side, designing a shirt patterned with what looks like statements in English, but reveals itself to be gibberish upon closer examination. Calling language useless, Herzog & de Meuron reduced words to nothing more than ornamentation as a commentary on the way untrue information has saturated our daily lives. “It has lost its seductive power. There is nothing new, nothing critical, nothing true in language that cannot be turned into its opposite and claimed to be equally true. Language has become an empty vehicle of information,” reads Herzog & de Meuron’s statement to Prada. OMA and Koolhaas have had a longstanding partnership with Prada, collaborating on everything from a 120,000-square-foot arts complex in Milan, to the Prada “Epicenter” in New York. All of Prada’s 2018 Autumn/Winter menswear collection can be found here.
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Rem Koolhaas ditches the city for the countryside in upcoming Guggenheim exhibition

Office for Metropolitan Architecture's (OMA) founding principal Rem Koolhaas and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum are teaming up to explore the earth's changing non-urban areas in an upcoming exhibition. Koolhaas, along with AMO, the OMA think tank, jettisons the city to speculate on the future of the countryside, an arguably less sexy topic for architects who love their Tokyos and Rios. By interrogating changing rural areas today, the exhibition, provisionally titled Countryside: Future of the World, will explore the effect of migration, automation and AI, radical politics, and ecological change on less-populated regions worldwide. “The fact that more than 50 percent of the world’s population now lives in cities has become an excuse to ignore the countryside,” said Koolhaas in a press release. “I have long been fascinated by the transformation of the city, but since looking at the countryside more closely in recent years, I have been surprised by the intensity of change taking place there. The story of this transformation is largely untold, and it is particularly meaningful to present it in one of the world’s great museums in one of the world’s densest cities.” The 50 percent figure Koolhaas cites is one of those urban myths that won't die, a tired United Nations statistic drawn from definitions of  "city" that vary wildly from country to country. Nevertheless, Countryside builds on work current work at AMO, as well as student work at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. The Guggenheim will announce further details on the exhibition, which is slated to open in fall 2019, as they become available.
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Marina Abramovic hits back over funding misuse allegations

Responding to recent articles by the New York Post and Artnet, performance artist Marina Abramovic spoke out over accusations that the her institute had misused funds for the now-cancelled Marina Abramovic Institute (MAI) building in Hudson, New York. Abramovic had announced the cancellation of the OMA-designed performance art space, citing that the cost had grown to $31 million. In a press release sent this morning, Abramovic broke down where the money from her Kickstarter had gone. She stated that the $661,452 she raised on Kickstarter, minus the crowdfunding platform's administrative fee, left her with $596,667. She also specified that “the Kickstarter was created to fund schematic designs by OMA New York for the building in Hudson, NY." The press release provided a list of costs and detailed how nearly a million dollars had gone to OMA for design fees and related services, with the firm writing off $142,167 as a donation. Abramovic revealed that OMA had billed her $655,167.10 for designing the new MAI building, with an added $354,502.67 in consultant fees, and $102,392.83 for the owner’s representative. Abramovic also clarified that any other money that had gone towards the project was paid for out of pocket, including over a million dollars for purchasing and renovating the existing building. In a recent interview with Vulture about the fate of the MAI, Abramovic explained that the cost of the renovation had grown to astronomical levels, including $700,000 for asbestos abatement alone. As for those Kickstarter backers who never received their awards? “[…] The only people that did not receive their rewards are the ones that did not respond to our requests for information. We welcome those backers that did not receive what they deserved to contact the institute directly via Kickstarter or on our website,” said Abramovic. True to Abramovic's performance-oriented aesthetic, the rewards were largely ephemeral; they ranged from a hug at the one dollar level to a soup-cooking session with the artist for $10,000 backers.
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Marina Abramovic cancels building project and leaves funders in the lurch

Update: Marina Abramovic responded to the allegations reported in this article. That response is available here After failing to meet its $31 million funding goal, performance artist Marina Abramovic recently announced the cancellation of her Hudson, New York-based Marina Abramović Institute for the Preservation of Performance Art (MAI). Designed by OMA partners Shohei Shigematsu and Rem Koolhaas, the 33,000-square-foot space would have led visitors through guided tours of the experimental performances that Abramovic is famous for. Originally estimated at $8 million, the project’s costs ballooned over the years to $31 million, according to the New York Post. Speaking at London’s Serpentine Sackler Gallery in October, Abramovic conceded that the project had grown too expensive to proceed with. “I, as a performance artist, could never raise $31 million unless some amazing guy from the Emirates [came forward] or some Russian who just wrote a cheque because he believed in me. But in real life, that doesn’t happen,” she said. With the cancellation of the MAI, questions have arisen over the $2.2 million already raised for the project. After a successful 2013 Kickstarter campaign raised $660,000, the artist pulled in another $1.5 million through private donations. According to the Post, a spokesperson for Abramovic has stated that any money raised has been paid to OMA. “The funds were raised not for the renovation itself but specifically for the schematics and the feasibility study,” the spokesperson said. Although the Kickstarter description confirms the spokesperson’s statement, several backers questioned whether they had thrown their money away, while others complained that they had never received their rewards for donating. “Fraud. I was supposed to receive a signed copy of the Abromovic Methods Exclusives DVD for $200 pledge back in 2013, and am still waiting for it. mised rewards,” said Andre Manukyan on the project’s comments page. Abramovic had hoped that the arts space, unveiled in 2012, would capture the ephemeral, transitive nature of performance art while still allowing visitors to engage with the building around them. Floor plans released by OMA show several distinct programmatic elements, including a fitness center, library, a learning center, offices and classrooms all situated around a 650-seat central performance space. Ambitious and wide-ranging in scope, the arts center would have mandated a minimum of six-hour “hard-core performance art” tours, where visitors would have surrendered their cellphones and worn white frocks while inside the building. OMA had also been set to design custom fixtures and furniture for the facility, including padded wheelchairs so that staff could ferry tired guests from one room to another. Built in 1929, the vacant theater in Hudson is owned by Abramovic and would have retained the original brick facade and column-flanked entryway under OMA’s proposal.Unused and abandoned, the former community theater now sits unmaintained. Abramovic has told the Post that the building would be put up for sale, with a portion of the proceeds going towards paying off the unpaid school taxes the artist owes for the property.
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OMA to design New Museum expansion

The New Museum has selected OMA to design a new building right next to its current home on the Bowery. Rem Koolhaas and Shohei Shigematsu are designing the expansion at 231 Bowery, a museum–owned property that currently houses an incubator program and private artist lofts. The building, funded through an $85 million capital campaign, will be integrated into the museum's current home, a structure by SANAA that opened in 2007. Despite authoring Delirious New York, Koolhaas will just now be designing his first public building in the city. Set to break ground in 2019, the addition will boost the museum's floor space by 50,000 square feet. The extra room will accommodate more galleries, improve circulation, and add "flexible space" for signature programming like IdeasCityNEW INC, and Rhizome, as well as other events. “Having collaborated with Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa on a number of projects in Europe, it is a real honor to stand alongside their great work of architecture, one of my favorites in the city," said OMA Founding Principal Rem Koolhaas, in a prepared statement. “I am honored to be awarded this project in the city perhaps most central to OMA's philosophy, and am thrilled to work with an institution that deeply values the practices of creative forward-thinkers," added Shohei Shigematsu, partner and leader of OMA's New York office. "As a Japanese architect, I am very happy to engage in a unique dialogue with SANAA and build alongside one of their seminal works.” Founded in 1977, the museum is the only institution in the city that exclusively displays contemporary art. It announced plans to grow its footprint back in May 2016, and since then, the museum has raised more than half the funds it needs to pay for the expansion. At that time, it said 231 Bowery would not be demolished. The Architect's Newspaper (AN) reached out to the New Museum to get a date for the design unveiling, and find out whether the museum plans to keep the current building, which houses NEW INC as well as artist live/work spaces. A spokesperson said design development will take eight months and details will be shared at the end of the process.
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No more weird architecture in Philadelphia: a retroactive manifesto for the AIA National Convention

The main exhibit hall at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia is as long as three city blocks. This is a universal space, unencumbered by columns, and enriched by connection points and affordances that offer access to electricity, light, water, ventilation. This space could hold and sustain almost anything. Today, as part of the AIA National Convention, it is filled with the elements of building, decontextualized and layered on top of one another in delirious profusion of texture and meaning. Here, a mockup of an elevator booth, across the aisle, a maze constructed entirely of doors. Signs over the booths invite us to do things like “Re-Think Wood,” and “Build our Community.” They remind us that “Glass is Everything.” A company making door knobs and handles announces that it is “The Global Leader in Door Opening Solutions.”

The breathless valorization of the normal is infectious. Things and people here seem on the verge of tipping over into some kind of technological singularity of the everyday. Even ordinary conversations occur with an extra layer of mediation. Each interaction with the staff at a booth is punctuated with an unusual question, "do you mind if I scan your badge?" Attendees are all wearing custom lanyards with QR codes, which booth staff photograph using smartphone apps, quantifying and upgrading any simple question about building components into an elevated transactional informational layer. This halo around the space, people, and things is also visible on the official convention app, where continuous backchannel discussions and jokes flow in real time, pulling attendees from the gridded space of the convention hall back into its virtual counterpart.

Two architects are haunting this universal space: Denise Scott Brown and Rem Koolhaas. The exhibit hall’s collection of elements can’t help but bring to mind the Venice Biennale exhibition that Koolhaas curated in 2014. His Elements of Architecture show included a suspended acoustic tile ceiling installed under an ornate frescoed dome, and a collection toilets from throughout history, with detailed annotations.

Similarly, the signs at the convention’s exhibits recall the gallery work and research of Scott Brown and her husband/partner Robert Venturi. For the 1976 show Signs of Life: Symbols in the American City, at the Smithsonian, the pair gave voices to the ordinary pieces of the domestic landscape. “Historical Elegance” says the ironwork on a rowhouse front door, “Regency Style” announces a suburban living room armchair. In her 1972 book, Learning From Las Vegas, Scott Brown, Venturi, and a third collaborator, Steven Izenour, drew a warehouse shed building with a large billboard optimistically declaring “I am a Monument.”

And there the drawing is, on a t-shirt available in the gift shop off the main hall. And here is Scott Brown herself, onstage with AIA President Russell Davidson and Executive Director Robert Ivy. They are awarding the AIA Gold Medal to her and Venturi. This is the first time that this award has gone to collaborative partnership, they announce, and they have voted to change the medal’s rules, just to make this possible. This is extraordinary, and long overdue, but it is also extraordinarily normal. Architects have been working together in partnerships for centuries. To adapt Scott Brown's own language, this moment, that has the audience of thousands on their feet and overcome with emotion, is Heroic and Original, but it's also Ordinary, and the failure, up until now, of the AIA to recognize and valorize this normal everyday mode is certainly a bit Ugly.

Architecture, like Main Street, is almost alright. After Scott Brown, we hear from Koolhaas, onstage with Mohsen Mostavi, the Dean of Harvard's GSD. Reminiscing about Learning From Las Vegas, Koolhaas said "I remember very clearly when I first saw a copy of that book. It was extraordinary, I bought it right away." Koolhaas has just finished signing hundreds of copies of his own 1978 book Delirious New York, A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan for sale in the bookstore alongside the "I am a Monument" shirts.

That book had chronicled the assimilation of the disruptive effect that several new technologies had on architecture in Manhattan: the steel frame, the elevator, the electric light, and the air conditioner. This re-normalization had taken place in the universal space of the 1811 street grid, allowing for the accommodation of difference in a way not unlike the neutral space of the convention center's exhibit hall holds the diverse booths. Although the two interlocutors never mention the city we are all in, the title of Mostavi and Koolhaas' talk is "Delirious Philadelphia." Billed by Ivy as "a real kick in the pants," the talk turns out to be quite an ordinary, low key conversation.

Koolhaas' own grand experiment with the nonstandard, Beijing's CCTV Building, for China's state controlled media, was another topic touched on by Mostavi and Koolhaas. It was completed in 2012, and in 2014, Chinese President Xi Jinping used it as an example to call for the end of what he called "weird architecture" in China. An official directive in 2016 followed up on this allusion, saying that buildings which are "oversized, xenocentric, weird," will no longer be permitted. "I share the opinion of my own most powerful critic," Koolhaas says, onstage in Philadelphia, "I am also perhaps skeptical of weird architecture."

Architecture is entering a period in which the destabilizing effects of robotics, digital communication, and computation are being brought to ground. New internet protocols coming online in the next few years will automate many aspects of the home, and there will soon be enough new IP addresses available to give every armchair and billboard its own identity and ability to communicate, fulfilling Scott Brown's vision of assertive home furnishings and self aware monumentally generic buildings. We will all have our badges to scan, and our conversations with each other, our spaces, and our things will be captured and recuperated constantly. As in Koolhaas's Manhattan, and in the conventionally universal convention space in Philadelphia, weirdness and xenocentrism will be deprecated and absorbed. In the future, everything will be normal.

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OMA selected to design The Factory, a major arts complex in Manchester, England

After fending off  Rafael Viñoly, Zaha Hadid, Nicholas Grimshaw, Haworth Tompkins Limited and compatriots Mecanoo, OMA's design for "The Factory" will become Manchester's new art house. Lead by Rem Koolhaas, The Factory will be in the British city's center and is touted to cost $166 million with a further $13.5 million-a-year to run. Funding will not be an issue for Koolhaas' building as U.K. Chancellor George Osborne has pledged $117.5 million to the project with the view that The Factory will become the "Northern Powerhouse" showpiece. The project's name supposedly comes from the home-grown Factory Records, an indie record label launched in 1978 that produced notable bands such as Joy Division and Happy Mondays. Koolhaas has designed what essentially is an art-box that will host a wide range of artistic events in Manchester, with an aim for the facility to become the cultural focal point of the region. The venue is dedicated to theatre, music, dance, technology, film, TV, and scientific advancements and will have a combined capacity of 7,200—2,200 seated and 5,000 standing. This will be OMA's first major public development on British soil, aside from a few minor forays into London, Glasgow, and the south coast. “The importance of the Factory cannot be overstated," Manchester council leader, Sir Richard Leese, told the Guardian. "It will be of international significance, the cultural anchor for the next phase of economic and cultural regeneration in Manchester, Greater Manchester and beyond. It will help power Manchester and the wider region towards becoming a genuine cultural and economic counterbalance to London, as well as being a place where inspirational art is created.” Koolhaas' project in Manchester is set to break ground next year with the aim to finish by 2019. According to the Guardian, "Those behind the project have predicted that within a decade it will help create the equivalent of 2,500 jobs adding nearly $211 million to the local economy."