Rem Koolhaas founded OMA in 1975 together with Elia and Zoe Zenghelis and Madelon Vriesendorp. Koolhaas worked as a journalist and screenwriter before beginning architecture, and writing has remained central to his architectural practice. At the same time as designing buildings around the world with OMA, Koolhaas works in non-architectural disciplines – including politics, publishing, media, fashion, and sociology – through his think tank and research unit, AMO.
After studying at the Architectural Association in London, and at Cornell and the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies in the US, Koolhaas wrote Delirious New York (1978) and simultaneously began producing projects and proposals with OMA. In 1995, S,M,L,XL summarized the work of OMA in a 1,200-page book that redefined architectural publishing. As director of the Project on the City research program at Harvard University, Koolhaas produced the books The Harvard Guide to Shopping (2001), an analysis of the role of retail and consumption in society and architecture, and Great Leap Forward (2002), a study of China’s Pearl River Delta; he also produced studies on Lagos, Roman architecture and communism.
Recently completed OMA buildings include De Rotterdam, three interconnected towers on the river Maas; Shenzhen Stock Exchange; the G-Star headquarters in Amsterdam; the new headquarters for China Central Television (CCTV) – a tower reinvented as a loop – in Beijing; a new headquarters for Rothschild Bank in London; and Milstein Hall, an elevated slab that extends Cornell’s college of Architecture, Art and Planning.
OMA-designed buildings currently under construction include the Taipei Performing Arts Centre; three buildings in Doha, Qatar; the Bibliothèque Multimédia à Vocation Régionale, a four-story public library in Caen; and Bryghusprojektet in Copenhagen, a mixed-use project accommodating the new headquarters for the Danish Architecture Centre.
In 1998, Koolhaas established AMO as a platform for using architectural thinking in non-architectural realms. Recent AMO projects include research into the countryside (globally) and the Russian hinterland; the design of catwalk shows for Prada and Miu Miu; “Cronocaos,” an exhibition on preservation, at the 2010 Venice Biennale; participation in the EU Reflection Group think tank, with the task of making proposals for Europe in 2020; Roadmap 2050, a masterplan for a Europe-wide renewable energy grid; and the development of an educational program for Strelka, a new architecture school in Moscow. AMO has also guest edited an issue of Wired magazine as well as consulting on the future of Conde Nast magazines; proposed a “barcode” EU flag; and developed a curatorial masterplan for the Hermitage museum, St. Petersburg.