Rem Koolhaas: Progress

Rem Koolhaas founded the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) in 1975 together with Elia and Zoe Zenghelis and Madelon Vriesendorp. He is recognized as one of the foremost architects working today, acclaimed not only for his pioneering buildings around the world, but also for his books, exhibitions, teaching and various projects in the realm of media, sociology, fashion and technology with OMA’s think tank, AMO.

Koolhaas and OMA have received several international awards, including the Pritzker Architecture Prize (2000) and the RIBA Gold Medal (2004) and the Golden Lion for the 12th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice (2010). In 2005, Koolhaas received the Mies van der Rohe Award for the Netherlands Embassy, Berlin, and in 2001 Koolhaas was awarded the French Legion of Honour.

Working closely with OMA’s offices around the world, he has been in charge of building projects, master plans, exhibitions and publications. In the late 90s he conceived AMO, an internal research group that operates in areas beyond the boundaries of architecture and urbanism. Recent AMO projects include Roadmap 2050: A master plan for a Europe-wide renewable energy grid; the development of an educational program for Strelka, a new architecture school in Moscow; consulting on the future of the European Union (EU) for the EU Reflection Group; designing catwalk shows for Prada and Miu Miu; guest editing an issue of Wired magazine as well as consulting on the future of Conde Nast magazines; creating the exhibition Image of Europe for the European Union and proposing a “barcode” EU flag; exploring the future of the automobile for Volkswagen; developing a curatorial master plan for the Hermitage, St. Petersburg.

Koolhaas worked as a journalist and script writer before studying architecture and writing has remained central to his architectural practice. While studying at Cornell in the U.S., Koolhaas wrote the seminal Delirious New York (1978) and simultaneously began producing groundbreaking projects and proposals with OMA. In 1995, S,M,L,XL summarized the wide-ranging work of OMA in a 1,200-page book that redefined architectural publishing. As director of the Project on the City research program at Harvard University, Koolhaas produced the books The Harvard Guide to Shopping (2001), an analysis of the role of retail and consumption in contemporary society and architecture; Great Leap Forward (2002), a study of China’s Pearl River Delta; and studies on Lagos, Roman Architecture and Communism. Other recent books by Koolhaas and OMA include Content (2004), a review of OMA work and its role in contemporary culture, and Al Manakh I and II (2007 and 2010), in-depth studies of the rapid urbanization of the Gulf.

In October 2011, the Barbican in London will host a major retrospective of the work of Koolhaas and OMA, following on from the 2004 exhibition Content which appeared at the Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin (2003). Koolhaas and OMA have created the exhibitions Dubai Next at the Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein (2008); Image of Europe, an effort to reassess the representation and perception of the European Union, in Brussels, Munich and Vienna (2004–06); The Gulf, exploring modernization and urbanization, at the Venice Architecture Biennale (2006); and Expansion and Neglect on the Hermitage Museum, at the Venice Biennale (2005).