2012

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Rem Koolhaas to receive 2012 Jencks Award

Date:

29 August 2012

Press office contact:

Beatrice Cooke
T: +44 (0)207 307 3813
E: beatrice.cooke@riba.org

Tuesday 20 November 2012, 18.30, RIBA – Presentation of award and public lecture by Rem Koolhaas, chaired by Charles Jencks

The (RIBA) is pleased to announce that Rem Koolhaas is to receive the 2012 Jencks Award. The Jencks Award is given annually to an individual (or practice) that has recently made a major contribution internationally to both the theory and practice of architecture. The award will be presented to Rem Koolhaas on Tuesday 20 November at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in London, where he will give a public lecture chaired by Charles Jencks.

Through his research and experimentation as well as his built projects and literature, Rem Koolhaas consciously works to deepen and expand the intrinsic connection between architecture and contemporary culture. All of his projects examine ways that architecture can engage with the contemporary city and the cultural context in which it operates.

Rem Koolhaas founded OMA (Office of Metropolitan Architecture) in Rotterdam in 1975 with Elia and Zoe Zenghelis and Madelon Vriesendorp, as a collaborative office practicing architecture and urbanism. He graduated from the Architectural Association in London and in 1978 published Delirious New York: A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan. In 1995, his book S,M,L,XL summarized the work of OMA in "a novel about architecture". He heads the work of both OMA and AMO (Architecture Media Organisation), the research branch of OMA, operating in areas beyond the realm of architecture such as media, politics, renewable energy and fashion. In 2005 he co-founded Volume Magazine, a quarterly magazine on architecture and design.

Rem Koolhaas’ built works include the master plan for the Eurolille, a convention centre in Lille; a dance theatre in the Hague, the Kunsthal Museum in Rotterdam, the IIT student center in Chicago, the Dutch embassy in Berlin, the Seattle Public Library; Casa da Musica in Portugal, the Central China Television (CCTV) headquarters in Beijing, Maggie’s Centre in Glasgow and New Court, the new Rothschilds Bank in London. Both of the new UK buildings are on the 2012 RIBA Stirling Prize shortlist.

Koolhaas has won several international awards including the RIBA Royal Gold Medal, the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2000 and the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 2010 Venice Biennale. A former journalist and screenwriter, Rem Koolhaas was a Harkness fellow with O. M. Ungers at Cornell University. He has taught at the University of California at Los Angeles, Columbia University, and the Architectural Association and has been a visiting design critic and juror at universities worldwide. Koolhaas is a professor at Harvard University where he conducts the Project on the City.

Charles Jencks commented on Rem Koolhaas receiving the award:

'Rem Koolhaas, more than any other architect of his generation, has built a parallel life between the theory and practice of architecture. This double commitment was explicitly marked in 1999 as his twin studios, OMA and AMO, the Office of Metropolitan Architecture and the Architecture Media Organisation. The former treats practical building, while the latter concentrates on cultural issues that arise with architecture. As he mentioned, 'the separation of these Siamese twins enables us to liberate architectural thinking from architectural practice.' … Whatever the diagram, idea or formal invention, the theoretical part of Koolhaas keeps the constructive part on edge – vital, fascinating, maddening.'

Previous recipients of the prestigious Jencks Award include Eric Owen Moss, Zaha Hadid, Foreign Office Architects, Peter Eisenman, Cecil Balmond, UNStudio, Wolf D. Prix & Coop Himmelb(l)au, Charles Correa and Steven Holl.

ENDS

Notes to editors

  • For further information contact Beatrice Cooke in the RIBA Press Office on 020 7307 3813 or e-mail beatrice.cooke@riba.org.
  • For further information or to book tickets go to architecture.com.
  • Citation on Rem Koolhaas by Charles Jencks:

    Rem Koolhaas, more than any other architect of his generation, has built a parallel life between the theory and practice of architecture. This double commitment was explicitly marked in 1999 as his twin studios, OMA and AMO, the Office of Metropolitan Architecture and the Architecture Media Organisation. The former treats practical building, while the latter concentrates on cultural issues that arise with architecture. As he mentioned, “the separation of these Siamese twins enables us to liberate architectural thinking from architectural practice.

    'Starting in 1960s Holland as a scriptwriter of films and as a journalist, Koolhaas has continued to predict some unlikely trends. Such prophecies often dramatise social conditions that escape mainstream architects, and with a vision that galvanises both the profession and his clients. Typically they manage to be critical and attractive, upsetting and sensual. This the ‘critical paranoia method,’ stems from Salvador Dali and it touches a public nerve while driving his architecture forward.

    Some Koolhaasian themes engage the question of radically different scales. These were first dramatised in the giant book S,M,L,XL written with Bruce Mau in 1995. If the extra small had problems then so too did ‘bigness,’ which destroys urban context. With ‘generic architecture,’ he showed universal abstraction challenging local meaning; or, with the ‘post-city’ network of a thousand miles, how the megalopolis cuts across urban boundaries. ‘Delirious New York,’ for which he became the retroactive scriptwriter, revealed the mania underlying the ‘culture of congestion;’ while today’s mania for preservation, he has recently shown, pickles an enormous percentage of the world’s building.

    Even when you disagree with him, Koolhaas’ diagrams and epigrams are given weight by the completed buildings. Often a book is produced about the building while it is still under construction, amplifying the final results. Like Le Corbusier who created twin productions and cloned his style of thought, this double text has a longstanding effect on architectural culture. Students and academics read both texts together and some even may have gone through the studio of OMA or AMO before setting up on their own. In the eighteenth and nineteenth century the Scuola di Palladio had an enormous effect on European and American architecture and, one guesses that Rem’s future influence might be comparable. Indeed, already the movement labelled Superdutch, in the 1990s, might have been more aptly named SupeRem.

    The new organisational ideas are illustrated by provocative examples. For instance, Koolhaas’ notion of the ‘free section’ (deriving from Le Corbusier’s ‘free plan’) first led to the Route Building of the Kunsthal in Rotterdam, 1993. Then this idea pulled together a series of jutting, cantilevered platforms, at the Seattle Central Library, 2004, and next turned into the ‘continuous loop’ of the gigantic CCTV Building in Beijing, 2009. Finally it became extra-small, as the corridor-street swallowed the whole building at the Maggie Centre, Glasgow, 2011.

    Whatever the diagram, idea or formal invention, the theoretical part of Koolhaas keeps the constructive part on edge – vital, fascinating, maddening – and also youthful, often relevant and sometimes beautiful.
  • The Jencks Award is awarded annually to an individual (or practice) that has recently made a major contribution simultaneously to the theory and practice of architecture. Winners are invited to deliver a lecture at the RIBA. Charles Jencks is a landscape designer, architectural theorist and writer, best known for his writing on post-modern architecture and as Trustee and Co-founder of Maggie's Cancer Caring Centres with Maggie Keswick.
  • The 2012 Jencks Award lecture will take place at the Jarvis Hall, RIBA, 66 Portland Place, London W1B 1AD on Tuesday 20 November at 18.30. Nearest tubes are Oxford Circus, Regent’s Park and Great Portland Street. Tickets for the Jencks Award lecture cost £12.00 (£10.00 RIBA members, students, concessions). To book online, go to www.architecture.com/programmes or call the RIBA booking line: 020 7307 3699.
  • For further information about Rem Koolhaas and OMA, please go to: www.oma.eu.
  • The Royal Institute of British Architects champions better buildings, communities and the environment through architecture and its members. www.architecture.com.

 

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