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Monthly Archives: July 2009

It seems that the Office of Metropolitan Architecture has come full circle on their wheel of life.

It would be the largest building in the Netherlands, but in this economic climate, who knows if De Rotterdam will actually get built, as the article purports.

Image from Dezeen

Image from Dezeen

Contrast the banal maximisation of leaseable space of De Rotterdam with what they were doing twenty years ago. Zeebrugge.
Decidedly an “XL” project. The competition was proposed to find an architectural response to the opening of the Channel Tunnel. The Ferry Terminal was proposal of almost schizophrenicaly mixed use that wore idiosyncrasy and timeliness on its sleeve. A radical solution to an extreme problem, the proposal for Zeebrugge stands as one of the most challenging and innovative infrastructural proposals of the later 20th century.

Image from OMA website

Image from OMA website

And instead of the Ferry Terminal and the dynamism of activity, there is going to be a ship sized building at the water that bears no relation to the water. There is going to be a tower and has little of the programmatic delirium and seemingly no space in its (literally and figuratively) square pro-forma to let in the manifold possibilities and wonders of the skyscraper form, as suggested by Koolhaas himself in Delirious New York. [Edit 7/12/09 – I stand corrected as to the programmatic makeup of De Rotterdam. See Note below for replacement text…]

The fact that the almost limitless possibilities and vision of the post-Cold War Europe, America, and world were abandoned by standard bearers like OMA so wholly and for so little – substituting profit for progress – says every grim and embarrassing thing there is to say about the last twenty years of architecture, building, and politics since Zeebrugge.


[7/12/09] Note: Upon further reading, I have found out that rather than forgetting them, the programmatic idea behind De Rotterdam is an instantiation exactly of the concepts of Delirious New York. A document of 30+ years of age. A documentation of the exciting mutations possible within the rigid framework of the modernist project, be its frame the city grid, the layered high-rise, or other rigid structures. So I amend my previous assertion to say this…

…There is going to be a tower that embodies the programmatic delirium of Koolhaas’s early theoretical work, but of what relevance. That wheel has already turned. The subtitle of the book is A Retroactive Manifesto For New York. Even then, it was exploring the concept of  Manhattanism post-facto. The territory had already been thoroughly explored unselfconsciously by the developers of the Modernist era. And consciously, buildings of all types from other “mixed use” skyscrapers (with the exact same program) to baseball fields have been constructed in the last 30 years. The fully synthesized version of Delirious New York that is De Rotterdam brings up the rear long after his concept has been embraced by architects and the public.