Posts tagged with "Rem Koolhaas":

Placeholder Alt Text

And Then There Were Four at 425 Park

The Times is reporting that four finalists are competing to build a new tower at 425 Park Avenue in Midtown Manhattan: Norman Foster, Rem Koolhaas, Zaha Hadid, and Richard Rogers. AN previously reported an international roster of 11 firms were in the running. The new tower could be the first of many in the area, if the Department of City Planning's proposal to up-zone the area is approved.
Placeholder Alt Text

A Film About Rem By his Son and OMA

The film My Architect, the story of Louis Kahn’s son on a mission to discover and understand his father, won over the hearts and praise of even the lay-est of architectural laypersons. The effects of which—a fresh spotlight on the work and life of a brilliant designer—did not fall on blind eyes. Tomas Koolhaas is making a film about his father, Rem Koolhaassee the Facebook page!—called REM set to debut in 2013. It also appears from rough clips that the CCTV building in China will play a central role in the story. Awesome! We can’t wait to see this quaint little film about a humble and modest architect and his role in designing the media headquarters for political oppression and censorship in China. We’ll get the popcorn! An interview with a homeless person inside the Seattle Public Library: Footage from February 2012 of the completed CCTV building: Koolhaas talks with workers at the CCTV building while it's under construction:
Placeholder Alt Text

Visitors Become Performers at OMA’s Marina Abramovic Institute

What makes the performing arts so thrilling is also what makes them so elusive—they are, by nature, ephemeral. Any documentation of a performance is only a pale reflection of what it's like to be there in the moment. So when performance artist Marina Abramovic began to contemplate what her own legacy would be, she thought beyond biographies, retrospectives, or monuments and instead began to develop a method of generating the kind of experiences she valued, one that would allow her kind of performances to continue long after the artist was no longer present. Starting in late 2014, "long duration" (six hours plus) performance pieces as well as facilities intended to initiate the public into performance art will be housed in the Marina Abramovic Institute for the Preservation of Performance Art (MAI) in Hudson, New York. The institute will occupy an old 20,000 square-foot theater that was purchased by Abramovic in 2007 and whose interior is being redesigned by Shohei Shigematsu and Rem Koolhaas of OMA. At Monday's press preview held at MoMA P.S. 1 in Queens, Shigematsu compared the concept for the institute to the experience of attending a baseball game (which, he noted, can be "long and sometimes very boring"), where the main spectacle unfolds below on the field but plenty of equally engaging activities happen at the same time in and around the grandstands. OMA will leave the theater's 1929 brick facade and colonnaded entry but create a new box inside that functions as a central performance space with 650 seats. Wrapping around it will be a fitness space, a library, and classrooms, along with rooms dedicated to meditation, levitation (powered by magnets), and crystals (which Abramovic believes are "like regenerators for people"). The key feature of OMA's design is that all these spaces are visually connected back to the center, creating a series of layers that blur the boundaries between audience and performer. In fact, every visitor to MAI will become a performer of sorts, signing on for a minimum visit of six hours that requires donning a white lab coat and participating in a series of instructive experiences on what Abramovic terms "hard-core performance art." The artist calls this "The Abramovic Method,"—"I feel like I've become a brand," she said—and through it she has made her evolution into an institution it's own kind of performance. Realizing that this level of engagement may require not only an open mind but also some endurance training, Abramovic and OMA have invented a kind of wheeled lounge chair in which visitors can rest, nap, and be rolled by staff to different levels of facility along a giant spiral ramp (a cafe is planned for the rooftop). Given the sanatorium-style atmosphere that is part Magic Mountain and part Eleusinian mysteries some guests may never want their performance to end. But to realize this vision for MAI, Abramovic must first raise at least $15 million and is now beginning a fundraising tour.
Placeholder Alt Text

A Questioning Koolhaas

Rem Koolhaas cut the interviewer short when asked if he had any regrets: “That’s a private matter and therefore not one I will answer.” And yet the entire hour-long conversation provided what seemed to be almost shockingly intimate glimpses into the architect’s state of mind, where feelings of being lonely, isolated, ineffectual, nostalgic, and even old seemed simmering. The event was LIVE, a series offering public interviews of topical characters, held in a sumptuous Victorian-age hall at the New York Public Library. And Rem Koolhaas with Hans Ulrich Obrist were there to talk with event curator Paul Holdengraber about their new book Project Japan: Metabolism Talks. The capacity audience numbered over 400, strong in architect professionals, including Marion Weiss, Michael Manfredi, SO-IL’s Jing Liu, Beatriz Colomina, Paul Goldberger, Suzanne Stephens, MoMA’s Pedro Gadhano, and Family’s Dong-Ping Wong among so many others. And they were all ears when Holdengraber said he had asked Koolhaas and Obrist to define themselves in seven words: Koolhaas gave a clear-cut six: mystic, rational, sober, baroque, patient, immediate. Obrist, sort of eight: catalyst, conversation, curating curiosity, guidance-making, and protest against forgetting. In a brief introduction, Koolhaas returned to a subject he’d addressed at the Japan Society a few nights before: How Kisho Kurokawa managed to be a magazine-posing celebrity architect in his day (1950s and 60s) who was still taken seriously enough to influence the direction of postwar Japan. “He was prominent enough to interview the prime minister,” Koolhaas noted, and you could almost feel the waves of longing and envy welling up. Today, he said, the effect is the opposite: the more media exposure, the less architects are taken seriously. Even more, the architect said, Kurokawa provided a postwar model for being male in Japan. (And that without wearing a black turtleneck.) The Metabolists worked together, and with the country almost entirely in ruins, their thinking as a group became “an extension of the imagination of the state.” Perhaps. What the Metabolists actually recommended in terms of architecture—floating fortresses, sky villas, pod-dwellings—seemed less of interest than the camaraderie of ideas. In contrast, Koolhaas said, “We are all lonely operators with very little cooperation. They could stand together and work in a movement.” And though the work itself dealt with impossibilities of scale and entirely broken down systems in desperate need, the united effort was “a miracle to behold.” Glossing over the homogeneity of postwar Japanese society with competitive zeal fueled by peer humiliations, Koolhaas apparently finds that zeitgeist preferable to today’s market economy where “architecture has been warped and separated from anything important and no longer serves the public good, but only the good of private interests.” The sheer Japanoiserie of Japanese architecture impressed both Obrist and Koolhaas who attribute that quality to modern architects having never cut off tradition but allowing it to flow continuously from the past and into their work. The same, he said, could never be said of a French, Dutch, or Swiss architect (pace Zumthor). It means something to be a Japanese architect, Koolhaas contended, while elsewhere, “architects have disintegrated to insignificance.” Such self-flagellating remarks have been voiced before by the profession’s most Sphinxian sage. And yet when he spoke of meeting with surviving Metabolists—some of them politically reactionary, to his surprise— it was how they coped with their advancing years that seems to have caught his attention most: "Perhaps old age requires strategy more than any other point in life. The conversations demonstrated touchingly that it is more crucial to exploit your limitations than to survive your gifts. As memory weakens, vision is your only option," Koolhaas said at the end, paraphrasing his book and, still marveling, added “It was magnificent to see the tactical ticking in their brains on how to make a good impression.” And so it was.
Placeholder Alt Text

Dutch Dream Team to Redesign United Nations Lounge

Rem Koolhaas has been thinking about the United Nations since his early Delirious New York days. Earlier this century, he even made a bid to design a new Secretariat. While that project didn’t pan out, the Dutch architect is joining a team of countrymen and women to “reconceive” the North Delegates Lounge in the Conference Building. In addition to OMA, the team will include designer Hella Jongerius, graphic designer Irma Boom, artist Gabriel Lester, and “theorist Louise Schouwenberg.” Occupied since 1952, the original space is sandwiched between the Secretariat and General Assembly; it is a magisterial double-height room hundreds of feet long with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the East River. A swank bar at one end was replaced in 1978 with a mezzanine and smaller bar that will be removed to take advantage, once again, of the room’s corner views. Keenly aware of the complex’s complex identity and Le Corbusier’s grab for design credit, Koolhaas who once wrote that the U.N. was a building that “an American could never have thought and a European could never have built” has described the team’s approach as the “preservation of change.” The renovation will include handmade bead curtains, new carpets, a combination of original Knoll club and Eames lounge chairs with new furnishings, and a new installation for artworks donated by member states. The fate of a 300-foot tapestry of the Great Wall of China (50,000 yards of wool; 600 pounds) that once hung in the lounge and was donated during the ping-pong détente of the 70s was not mentioned in the press release. The project sponsored by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs is scheduled for completion in 2012.
Placeholder Alt Text

Gang in the Great Hall

Fresh off winning a MacArthur Fellowship, last night Jeanne Gang gave a lecture at the Great Hall at Cooper-Union, organized by the Architectural League, which emphasized her firm's commitment to material research, sustainability, and collaboration with experts from diverse fields. She spoke about an ongoing research project into possibly restoring the natural flow of the Chicago River, which may have intrigued New York's Planning Commissioner, Amanda Burden, who was among those in the audience. The project, in many ways, mirrors the Bloomberg Administration's citywide sustainability efforts. Amale Andraos, from Work AC, introduced Gang and guided her through some gentle questioning. Andraos praised Studio Gang's civic engagement and the persistent "earnestness" of their work. When asked about mentors, Gang praised her unnamed professors, made a glancing reference to having worked for Rem Koolhaas, and said how much she learns from her employees. The Koolhaas connection, which she shares with Andraos, seemed particularly intriguing. Because though Koolhaas's research intensive process certainly inform's Gang's approach--as it has influenced countless architectural practices around the world--Gang's earnestness and plainspoken Midwestern attitude seems almost diametrically opposed to Rem's persona. She also discussed her Tower of Tubes in Lexington, Kentucky, which, though it was well received in the community, has yet to secure financing. In addition she gave an preview of the firm's contribution to MoMA's forthcoming exhibition Foreclosed, which looks at a post-industrial site in Cicero, Illinois.  And while she emphasized the importance of community engagement, she said the firm has yet to "spring" the proposal on Cicero.
Placeholder Alt Text

Quick Clicks> Pedal-Theatre, Reading Rem, Wall Street Logos, Ranking Creativity

Cinema Pedal-iso. In London, you now have an alternative to the typical energy-consuming movie theater. The Cycle-In Cinema (led by a non-profit education project called Magnificent Revolution) allows you to to plug your bike into a generator, hop on, and start pedaling away for an entirely human-powered movie experience. More at Inhabitat. Reading Rem. Rem has a new book written with curator Hans Ulrich Obrist all about Japanese modernism. To be released this November, Project Japan: Metabolism Talks… documents "the first non-Western avantgarde movement in architecture" from post-war Tokyo in the 1960s and includes rare images from Manchuria to Tokyo, snapshots of the Metabolists at work and play, and architectural models. An advance preview and signing is coming up soon at the TASCHEN book store. Branding a Protest. The NY Times' Seymour Chwast draws attention to Occupy Wall Street's lack of a logo. As the demonstrations gain momentum, Chwast said now is a perfect time to consider branding, suggesting a 19th-century, cigar-smoking baron. Creativity Worldcup. Has the Gross National Product outlived its usefulness in determining the success of nations? Over at The Atlantic Cities, Richard Florida has compiled a list of top cities using his Global Creativity Index ranking global economic competitiveness and prosperity. According to the GCI, which evaluates and ranks 82 nations on the three "T's" (Technology, Talent, and Tolerance), the U.S. ranks second only to Sweden, the world-champion of creativity.
Placeholder Alt Text

Quick Clicks> Prairie Preserved, Library Voyeur, Mapping Riots, & a Culver City Compromise

Prairie Hotel. After a 2-year, $18 million renovation, Frank Lloyd Wright's last standing hotel has reopened in Mason City, Iowa. The Historic Park Inn Hotel is a premier example of the Wright's Prairie style, and features deep hanging eaves and a terra-cotta façade. A massive art-glass skylight drenches the lobby in multi-colored light. More at ArtInfo. Library of Glass. Although Philip Johnson's Glass House library is transparent, Birch Books Conservation will soon offer the public a view the architect’s library without a trip to New Canaan. The non-profit publisher hopes “to preserve the professional libraries of artists, architects, authors, and important public figures through publishing photographic and written research,” with an inside look at Johnson’s personal collection, reported Unbeige. Mapping Poverty and Rebellion. The Guardian opened up the recent London riots for debate. Journalist Matt Stiles mapped the newspaper’s accumulated data of riot hot spots on a plan of London’s neighborhoods. Deep red stands for the British capital’s poorest regions, while blue represents the wealthiest communities. Metro In-The-Middle. The long-awaited Culver City Expo Line station was delayed by a disagreement between Culver City and construction authorities. Now, the two parties have agreed to the $7 million budget increase, which will fund a pedestrian plaza, bike lanes, parking facilities and pavement improvements. More at Curbed LA.
Placeholder Alt Text

On View> 194X–9/11: American Architects and the City

194X–9/11: American Architects and the City The Museum of Modern Art 11 West 53rd St. Through January 2 Prompted by the United States’ entrance into World War II in 1942, Architectural Forum magazine commissioned pioneering architects to imagine and plan a postwar American city. At the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, 194X-9/11: American Architects and the City features the plans, renderings, and sculpture of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Louis Kahn, Paul Rudolph, and Rem Koolhaas and their ideas for cities of the future. Rarely displayed works, such as Mies van der Rohe’s collage Museum for a Small City Project (1942), above, reveal plans for cultural centers and urban life in uncertain times.
Placeholder Alt Text

AN Walkabout: Festival of Ideas, UN Studio, and Armani

It's time for ICFF and the fair's associated festivities, but our heads are still spinning from all the architecture and design goings-on in New York City over the last ten days. Among our stops were the Festival of Ideas, sponsored by the New Museum, including a lecture by Rem Koolhaas, a stop by UN Studio's new pavilion at downtown's Peter Minuit Plaza, and drink at Armani Casa's new location in the D&D Building. It all started with Rem... Rem Says On Wednesday, May 4, Koolhaas delivered a lecture at NYU based on the tension between preservation and destruction, or, in Rem-speak, "Cronocaos." Zach Schwanbeck, a project manager with the NYC Economic Development Corporation, attended the sold-out event (tix were $25). "As someone who has to work with and around a lot of landmarked properties, I think it's interesting to consider what counts as 'historic' and what counts as 'preservation.' Rem talked about the speed at which we're preserving buildings today and how there has to be an understanding of history but also the future," said Schwanbeck. Underpinning the argument for a smarter approach to preserving (and destroying, when necessary) the built environment was Koolhaas' stat that twelve percent of the land on the planet is now "protected" under some form of preservation guidelines. Rem took the opportunity to criticize "starchitects" (cue slide of grinning Daniel Libeskind with Freedom Tower model), arguing that this elite group is no longer truly contributing anything of value to the built environment. To make the point, Koolhaas considered architecture through the eyes of the consumer media, specifically Time magazine: no architects have appeared on the cover since the '60s. The lecture kicked off the Festival of Ideas and an associated Cronocaos exhibit, recycled from the 2010 Venice Biennale, is mounted in a gallery space next door to the New Museum through June 5.
Parade of Ideas On Saturday, May 7, we trolled the streets around the Bowery, checking out an array of Festival booths and installations, and bumped into Bjarke Ingels riding his bike (so Danish!), fresh from holding forth at one of the weekend's many panel discussions. We ended up at Booth 99 in Sara Roosevelt Park, where ExpoTENtial had set up their "Hug A Worm" booth about urban composting. It's one of ten "labs" that ExpoTENtial is curating over the next several months (on tap for Saturday, May 14: Urban Alchemy, 8-10pm on the corner of Lafayette and Bleeker).

                Armani Casa Despite years of unwavering support from the maestro, Armani Casa, the home furnishing line from Giorgio Armani, has downsized considerably by closing their last stand-alone store in the United States and moving operations into the D&D Building on Thursday, May 13. The opening on the 14th floor was a subdued affair with the designer’s black-clad loyalist milling about the sober, yet glossy surfaced space with champagne flutes in hand. The modest scale of the new showroom seems a far more realistic approach to the New York co-op owner than the over-the-top-soaring-ceiling loftiness of the old Soho outpost.  The company already closed their LA store and moved into a showroom at the Pacific Design Center. The new showrooms will sell everything from plates, to poufs, and even patios, as the company will continue to offer in-house interior design services.
Placeholder Alt Text

Architects with Altitude

Witold Rybczynski, smart writer, stupid article. Last Thursday, Slate's respected architecture critic weighed in with the dubious notion that the shorter in height, the greater the architect. This silly notion has gone viral on the web, and we felt it was our job to rebut it with some tall figures. Here they are.
Placeholder Alt Text

Going Dutch in SF Next Week

In case you didn't watch the World Cup this year, orange is the official color of the Netherlands. And it's the inspiration for a week of Dutch design events in San Francisco starting on November 14 called Seeing Orange. The week will feature Dutch creativity that includes not just architecture (hi Rem and friends..) but design, fashion, graphic arts, and so on. One of our favorite events is a bike tour (makes sense.. have you ever been to Amsterdam?) of Dutch design highlights led by architect David Baker and urban planner Robert Bregoff. The tour will visit places like My Dutch Bike, which sells handmade Dutch cycles and gear, Hedge Gallery, which features art by Dutch designers, Propeller, showing off sleek Dutch furniture and accessories, and several other destinations. Another highlight: UN Studio founder Caroline Bos will talk with CCA students and faculty about the firm's "Deep Planning" techniques. Sounds mysterious, but great. The full list of events is here. No word yet on whether there will be any of those great Dutch pancakes, but we'll keep you posted..