Whatever happened to OMA (and Koolhaas) ?


Have just been wondering. Not heard much of/from Koolhaas after that weird "Countryside" exhibition at the Guggenheim.

I do miss their work, although most of it was in no way relevant to what 99% of us do in our daily lives.

Any news?

Nov 28, 23 11:05 pm

Still keeping on being Rem best I can tell. OMA just finished a building about half a mile from me, both OMA and AMO (apparently) have been working with Prada on stuff, including several high profile fashion shows. I'm not even seeking his work out it's just showing up. So I guess it's just not coming across your radar. 

Nov 29, 23 2:05 am  · 

I think he is somewhat of a fading superstar, relative to the white-hot fame and influence of the period that ran from about 1995 to 2005.

On the business side, OMA has a lot of competition in the USA from REX, BIG and Studio Gang among others.   On the academic side, the current environmental and social justice trends among USA academics makes Rem hard to square, given OMA's association with things they may find problematic, like CCTV (authoritarianism) and Prada (luxury, elitism).

It doesn't help that Rem's past few years of books and exhibits are not terribly compelling.  But I'm sure that OMA will continue to get very nice commissions for the rest of Rem's lifetime.  At 79, he's got at least another 10 years or so to accomplish a comeback of sorts with some kind of masterful late works.

Nov 29, 23 11:14 am  · 
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Yes, that's what i assumed, on the Academic/research side. Current goals of social justice, sustainability etc do not really sit well with any of their older research...

Nov 29, 23 12:28 pm  · 

USA architectural academia is hopelessly locked in an unending cycle of fads. It was inevitable that Koolhaas would become passe for one reason or another.

Nov 29, 23 4:17 pm  · 
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What was cutting-edge digital drawings are now produced by first-year students. Yes, things come and go but their influence lingers.

Nov 29, 23 4:55 pm  · 
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worth noting that the competition you named are all alumni of OMA. the generous interpretation being that RK ran the studio like an academy and trained the next generation of architects. the cynical interpretation that he left no space for leadership to grow within the office.

Nov 29, 23 6:30 pm  · 
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I think the alums have better positioned themselves to offer the things that a lot of US institutional clients are looking for in their architects.

Nov 29, 23 7:06 pm  · 
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Also, the shit OMA/AMO did to make themselves seem cooler - i.e. Diagrams, Program based design, diagram-become-building etc are pretty much done by even the lamest of corporate firms these days. Their pedagogical influence has definitely faded off.

Nov 29, 23 8:54 pm  · 
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dr., your post above reminded me that later versions of the mini-malls contained tons of po-mo detailing with arches and gable profiles as parapets.

Though, RK is one of those figures will be gone but not forgotten. Historians and theoreticians will make sure of that.

Nov 29, 23 9:06 pm  · 
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Maybe, but in the corporate/commercial world, no one talks about OMA anymore, do they still do in academia? I still have my SIGNED copy of SMLXL lol

Nov 29, 23 9:41 pm  · 

They've been doing a lot of cool adaptive reuse lately - and Chicago is about to have an OMA project that I'll be able to see from my apartment window in a couple of years.

Nov 29, 23 11:34 am  · 
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I heard about that one! They're coordinating with JACOBS right? Early viz made it look like an egg.

Nov 29, 23 11:47 am  · 

OMA NY has long been its own animal - and the previous incarnation pretty much died when REX left and took the business along with it. Now, OMA NY is bifurcated between the 2 partners and frankly, none of its recent work rises to the standard set by projects such as the Seattle Library.

As for OMA elsewhere, its run by the business-minded partners who have installed financial discipline in exchange for creative excess.

Nov 29, 23 12:23 pm  · 
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Getting a chuckle out of "standard set by projects such as the Seattle Library" ... which is the world's most expensive latrine, casts blinding glare into many surrounding buildings when the sun is out, and is nearly impossible to find your way around inside. Maybe OMA was never any good to begin with.

Nov 29, 23 5:41 pm  · 

my guess is that this was an office run by a single domineering personality and now he is getting too old to micromanage everything. 150 interns and a handful of managing partners doesn't make for a strong office.

Nov 29, 23 6:27 pm  · 
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That is a lot of schadenfreude, without much schaden.

Neither Rem nor OMA are so out of the picture yet, I think. The last time I saw him in the flesh was in Tokyo before covid, where he was supporting a friend's lecture. It felt like he had had enough spotlight that he didnt need any more. More zen than tired, IMO. But who knows...

Recently Azabudai hills has opened in Tokyo and several projects from the NY office are making their way through the critical blender. The output is not as lively or fuck-off-ish as the salad days of the IIT McCormick centre and Seattle Library, but it still stands out. Personally I quite like the tower in Tokyo. It is more joyful than the serious project by Ingenhoven across the way and much better built than so much of their older work.

If I were to speculate on the lack of new prose from Rem, I think the collage-like approach he works with is a bit out of favor just now, so what can he say, really. The world craves more certainty not less (in bite size pieces by preference), and OMA feels out of touch rather then edgy for insisting on imprecision in their work. But it is too soon to count them finished.

Nov 29, 23 9:45 pm  · 
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