Monday, May 17, 2004 - Page updated at 12:31 A.M.
"S,M,L,XL," by Koolhaas and Bruce Mau. Published: 1995. This 6-pound book indicts architecture for being stuck in its own conventions and failing to rise to the challenges that contemporary society presents. Koolhaas critiques architects' attempts to control urban life as futile, and says architects have pigeonholed themselves as mere decorators of cities. The book outlines Koolhaas' projects his successes, his failures, his processes to present a view of architecture that incorporates massive changes in society.
Maison à Bordeaux, France. Completed: 1998. Named "Best Design of 1998" by Time magazine, this house was built for a man in a wheelchair and his family. The three-story house, referred to by Koolhaas as three houses layered on top of one another, features a cantilevered floor on a sloping site. A moving platform carries the man from one layer to the other, changing the architecture of the house according to his movement.
Prada New York. Completed: 2001. A huge, undulating staircase dominates this interior conversion of a 19th-century space that formerly housed the Guggenheim Soho. The stairs serve as a display surface for clothes and shoes, suggesting to customers that they should try them on and inspect them on this very public stage. The store's intent is to re-examine what it is to shop, and serves as much as a marketing tool for Prada as a retail outlet.
Eurolille Master Plan and the Lille Grand Palais, Lille, France. Completed: Plan, 1994; mixed-use Grand Palais, 2004. This project is the largest realized urban plan in France and one of several buildings within it. Koolhaas recognized the importance of the tunnel to England and the TGV, France's superfast train anticipated to run through it, and used these technological developments to guide the project's development. From the inside of the Grand Palais, the exterior wall is transparent; from the outside, it is opaque.
McCormick Tribune Campus Center, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago. Completed: 2004. On top of the building, Chicago's elevated train, the El, rests on the roof, encased in a tube for noise abatement. The goal of Koolhaas' firm, the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, was to get people moving on campus again. By reducing noise, creating new pathways for people and gobbling a square block, the building hopes to invigorate the campus. For an architectural inside joke, the building's exterior includes a story-tall graphic of modern master Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's head that splices the building's two entry doors. When opening the doors, you literally open his face.
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