The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has just announced that Rem Koolhaas, founder of OMA, is to receive the 2012 Jencks Award, 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 RIBA in London, where he will give a public lecture chaired by Charles Jencks.
Koolhaas has been recognised by RIBA for his research and experimentation, as well as his built projects and literature, which they say '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'.
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. A graduate from the Architectural Association in London, he published Delirious New York: A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan in 1978. 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.
Koolhaas’ architectural 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, and the Central China Television (CCTV) headquarters in Beijing. The Maggie’s Centre in Glasgow and New Court, and the new Rothschilds Bank in London are both UK buildings on the 2012 RIBA Stirling Prize shortlist.
When it comes to accolades, Koolhaas is no stranger to reward. He 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. Koolhaas is also a professor at Harvard University where he conducts the Project on the City.
Charles Jencks personally 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.”
Koolhaas joins the likes of 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 who have all received the prestigious accolade before.