Rem Koolhaas to receive 2012 Jencks Award

Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas at the 2 Moscow Biennale of Architecture, 2010. Photo Rodrigo Fernández

The  Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is pleased to announce 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.

CCTV model, Collection of the Powerhouse Museum

CCTV model, Collection of the Powerhouse Museum

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.