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.
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.
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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, designed by OMA as a reinvention of the skyscraper as a loop, defies the skyscraper’s typical quest for ultimate height.
Relocating to one of Moscow's best known public spaces, Garage Contemporary Center will be exposed to a much larger and diversified audience.
Milstein Hall is the first new building in over 100 years for the renowned College of Architecture, Art and Planning (AAP) at Cornell University.
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.
OMA's first project in Canada aims to integrate the building with the surrounding park and initiate new links with the city.
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.
Soaring towers have become increasingly common wherever land is scarce, allowing cities to stack life ever taller, denser and more dynamic.
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.
The Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) was recently recently awarded the first prize in the international competition to build the Taipei Performing Arts Centre.
OMA recently presented their concept for a new multi-use building on the harbor front in the historic center of Copenhagen.
The client demanded a solitary building, integrating requirements of conventional civil service security with Dutch openness.
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.
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.
The Coal Washing Plant is part of the Zollverein Mining Complex, which was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Center in December 2001.
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.
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.
The complex by Rem Koolhaas forms a new nexus for the academic and residential corridors of IIT's Main Campus.
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.
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.