OMA partners. From left: Rem Koolhaas, Ellen van Loon, Reinier de Graaf, Shohei Shigematsu, Iyad Alsaka and David Gianotten.

By Jakob Harry Hybel

OMA is  Rem Koolhaas.  Rem Koolhaas is OMA. That seems to be the popular belief, but one should not make the mistake of equating the two. In fact, Koolhaas is just one out of six partners in a collaborative partnership based in Rotterdam with offices all over the world.

It is a quite understandable misconception, though. For one thing, of OMA's four founding partners - the others being Madelon Vriesendorp, Zoe Zenghelis and Elia Zenghelis - Koolhaas is the last one remaining in the firm.

More importantly though, the stern but charismatic Koolhaas has always been a vigorous social critic and a polemic, idiosyncratic writer. In fact, it was the early writings of Koolhaas (especially his seminal dissection of the modern metropolis, "Delirious New York") that made him known in the architectural world. They also laid the foundation of OMA's philosophy.

OMA bases their work on the premise that in our modern, high-technological society, traditional city structures have become obsolete. They see no point in adhering to site-specificness in an increasingly globalized world and thus, their projects are strictly self-referential.

The huge commercial success the firm enjoys today was not always a given. The first decade-and-a-half following OMA's formation in 1975 was characterized by controversial competition entries, which earned the firm a certain amount of international attention, but very few buildings were actually realized.

From the late 80s, things started to take off when OMA won the commission for one of their key projects: Euralille, a hub for high-speed trains in the town of Lille in northern France. This was a turning point.

Since then they have designed large-scale projects such as the Zollverein Historical Museum and master plan in Essen, public buildings the Netherlands Embassy in Berlin and the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, high-profile landmarks such as the much acclaimed Casa da Música concert hall in Porto and most recently the China Central Television Tower in Beijing. They have also dabbled in private residential projects.

OMA has won several international awards including the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2000, the RIBA Gold Medal in 2004, the Mies van der Rohe Award in 2005 and the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 2010 Venice Biennale.

Visit OMA's website here.

February 08, 2017 /

Design Museum London
London, United Kingdom

John Pawson’s collaboration with OMA, Allies and Morrison, and Arup on the new home for the Design Museum in West London is characterized by an incredible level of detail: from the rearticulation of the immense and innovative existing roof structure to the subtle and sophisticated interior finishes.

January 25, 2017 /

Faena Forum
Miami, Florida, USA

The crown jewel of the Faena Arts complex, The Forum, anchors two city blocks of OMA-designed Faena buildings. Clad in a stark white facade punctuated by a jagged mosaic of 350 angular windows, the building’s two volumes create a unique set of interior and exterior spaces that host a wide range of functions.

October 16, 2016 /

Pierre Lassonde Pavilion
Montreal, Canada

Nestled into Parc des Champs-de-Bataille in Québec City, Canada, the Pierre Lassonde Pavilion at the Musée National des Beaux-arts du Québec (MNBAQ) stands apart from its classical neighbours. Clad in translucent glass and organized in staggered rectangular forms, the building is a brazen addition to a museum campus dotted with twentieth century temples of art.

April 04, 2016 /

Garage Gorky Park
Moscow, Russia

OMA’s Garage Museum of Contemporary Art offers the simultaneous reimagination and preservation of the 1968 Vremena Goda Pavilion, a Soviet canteen in Moscow’s Gorky Park. Translated as Seasons of the Year, architect Igor Vinogradsky’s Vremena Goda had been languishing in dereliction since the 1990’s, until it was recently designated as the new home for Garage, and the centre of Moscow’s latest cultural precinct.

November 02, 2015 /

Fondazione Prada
Milano, Italy

A new art space for Fondazione Prada located in a former industrial complex may sound like the cliché of the 21st century gallery. It is, however, anything but.

September 01, 2014 /

G-Star Raw HQ
Amsterdam, The Netherlands

In 1989, a small designer clothing company was founded in Amsterdam, which soon went on to become Europe's most iconic raw denim company. Originally named Gap Star, the firm is now known as G-Star Raw. Just like the denim that made the company famous, the notion of raw surfaces is also at the core of their new headquarters, designed by Rem Koolhaas and his Rotterdam-based Office for Metropolitan Architecture.

February 17, 2014 /

De Rotterdam
Rotterdam, The Netherlands

The new De Rotterdam Tower by OMA creates a city-within-a-city in Rotterdam whilst at the same time referring back to Rem Koolhaas’ early analysis of New York and Bigness. Unintentionally it also proves that what works in Manhattan may not automatically work in the Netherland’s second city.

December 17, 2013 /

Shenzhen Stock Exchange
Shenzhen, China

From the "VIP Club" on the 46th Floor of the new Shenzhen Stock Exchange, designed by Rem Koolhaas from OMA in Rotterdam, people look down onto a sterile ideal city.

CCTV Headquarters by in Beijing, China. Exterior view. 
Photo: Iwan Baan

January 14, 2013 /

CCTV Headquarters
Beijing, China

CCTV Headquarters, designed by OMA as a reinvention of the skyscraper as a loop, defies the skyscraper’s typical quest for ultimate height.

Milstein Hall by OMA in Ithaca, New York, USA. Street view. Photo: Iwan Baan
March 12, 2012 /

Milstein Hall
Ithaca, New York, USA

Milstein Hall is the first new building in over 100 years for the renowned College of Architecture, Art and Planning (AAP) at Cornell University.

Fondaco dei Tedeshi by OMA in Venice, Italy. Photo © OMA
September 06, 2010 /

Fondaco dei Tedeshi
Venice, Italy

OMA recently unveiled its design for the major restoration and redefinition of one of Venice's largest and most iconic buildings: the Fondaco dei Tedeschi, adjacent to the Rialto Bridge on the Grand Canal.

MNBAQ by OMA in Québec, Canada. Image courtesy OMA
June 14, 2010 /

Québec, Canada

OMA's first project in Canada aims to integrate the building with the surrounding park and initiate new links with the city.

February 01, 2010 /

Chu Hai College
Hong Kong, China

The Office for Metropolitan Architecture, in collaboration with Leigh & Orange Architects, has won the competition for the new campus for Chu Hai College of Higher Education in the New Territories in Hong Kong.

August 03, 2009 /

Bangkok, Thailand

Soaring towers have become increasingly common wherever land is scarce, allowing cities to stack life ever taller, denser and more dynamic.

Shenzhen Stock Exchange by OMA in Shenzhen, China. Photo courtesy OMA
July 13, 2009 /

Shenzhen Creative Center
Shenzhen, China

OMA, in collaboration with Shenzhen based architects Urbanus, were awarded first prize in the design competition for a major new cultural center, transport hub, and public landmark in the heart of the city of Shenzhen, southern China.

Taipei Performing Arts Centre by OMA in Taipei City, Taiwan. Image © OMA
March 16, 2009 /

Taipei Performing Arts Centre
Taipei City, Taiwan

The Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) was recently recently awarded the first prize in the international competition to build the Taipei Performing Arts Centre.

The Brewery Site by OMA in Copenhagen, Denmark. Waterfront
Image courtesy OMA
April 14, 2008 /

The Brewery Site
Copenhagen, Denmark

OMA recently presented their concept for a new multi-use building on the harbor front in the historic center of Copenhagen.

The Embassy of the Netherlands by OMA in Berlin, Germany. Corner. 
Photo: Christian Richters
March 10, 2008 /

Netherland's Embassy
Berlin, Germany

The client demanded a solitary building, integrating requirements of conventional civil service security with Dutch openness.

Prada Epicenter by OMA in Beverly Hills, California, USA. Streetview 
Photo: arcspace
March 07, 2007 /

Prada Epicenter
Beverly Hills, California, USA

The Beverly Hills Prada Epicenter's most remarkable feature is the absence of a facade; the entire width of 50 feet along Rodeo Drive opens up to the street, without a traditional storefront or glass enclosure, inviting the public to enter the building.

Seoul National University Museum by OMA in Seoul, South Korea. Exterior view, Front. 
Photo: Chuck Choi
November 27, 2006 /

Seoul National University Museum
Seoul, South Korea

The design for the Seoul National University Museum is driven by the relationship of the campus to the community and serve as a link between them.

Coal Washing Plant by OMA in Essen, Germany. Under construction. Escalators.
Photo © Thomas Mayer
August 07, 2006 /

Coal Washing Plant
Essen, Germany

The Coal Washing Plant is part of the Zollverein Mining Complex, which was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Center in December 2001.

Charles & Dee Wyly by OMA in Dallas, Texas, USA Theater exterior landscape
Photo: Iwan Baan
November 07, 2005 /

Charles & Dee Wyly Theater
Dallas, Texas, USA

In the typical theater, the proliferation of front-of-house and back-of-house spaces threatens to strangle the auditorium itself, buffering the performance from the outside world.

Casa da Musica by OMA in Porto, Portugal. Exterior
Photo: Charlie Koolhaas
October 24, 2005 /

Casa da Música
Porto, Portugal

The Casa da Música is situated on a travertine plaza, between the city's historic quarter and a working-class neighborhood, adjacent to the Rotunda da Boavista.

McCormick Tribune Campus Center
Photo: Richard Barnes
March 07, 2005 /

McCormick Tribune Campus Center
Chicago, Illinois, USA

The complex by Rem Koolhaas forms a new nexus for the academic and residential corridors of IIT's Main Campus.

Seattle Public Library by OMA in Seattle, Washington, USA. Street view.
Photo: arcspace
March 29, 2004 /

Seattle Public Library
Seattle, Washington, USA

The new Seattle Public Library houses the library's main collection of books, government publications, periodicals, audio visual materials and the technology to access and distribute information from the physical collection online.

Paard van Troje (Trojan Horse)
Photo © Hans Werlemann (Hectic)
August 18, 2003 /

Paard van Troje (Trojan Horse)
Hague, The Netherlands

After a renovation and extension by OMA the performance center, Paard van Troje (Trojan Horse) opened to the public at the beginning of the new cultural season in September.

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