Wednesday, May 18, 2011


"The various elements of this exhibition attempt to show
the wrenching simultaneity of preservation and destruction
that is destroying any sense of the linear evolution of time 
and propelling us into a period of CRONOCAOS" - OMA 

Cronocaos Exhibition (Extension of the New Museum) 
on Bowery. Image by Dawn Elardo.
During the Festival of New Ideas for The New City, we were invited to a press preview to hear architect, theorist, Harvard Professor of Architecture and Urban Design, and Founder of OMA (The Officer for Metropolitan Architecture), Rem Koohaas present his recent theory of Cronocaos.  

MONOCLE’s News Report on the Architecture Biennale – from OMA.

Rem Koohaas giving his preview lecture
on Cronocaos at the New Museum
Extension on Bowery, NY.
Image by Dawn Elardo for The NewsGallery.
Koohaas, the former professor of Zaha Hadid has recently been awarded the Golden Lion for the lifetime achievement in architecture at the last Venice Biennale (August, 2010; see Monocle's video above, mention the Dutch architect's involved plan to help reinvent the city of Venice), where he (OMA) first publicly introduced their philosophy on architectural conservation: Cronocaos
Embeded in huge waves of development, which seems to transform the planet at an ever accelerating speed, there is another kind of transformation at work: an area of the world declared immutable through various regimes of preservation is growing exponentially.  A huge section of our world, (about 12 percent) is now off limits, submitted to regimes we don't know, have not thought through, cannot influence.  At this moment of surreptitious apotheosis, preservation does note quite know what to do with its new empire. 
Wrapped in these said statements is the epitome of the architect/theorist's ethos on preserving space. Walking in with ease into the allotted gallery of the New Museum (just a few doors down from the main building), everyone immediately became star-stunned at the globally renowned and famous architect who detests the idea of starchitects himself — Koolhaas is perhaps an architect at heart, but an academic in thought.  

The room naturally gathered towards the man whose ideas we'd been contemplating for the hour.  Koolhaas does in fact have, a coolness to his demeanor.  He spoke passionately on his philosophy of societies' conservation standards (or as he might imply: non-standards), and how our practices have evolved through time, based on whatever is currently governing the western culture.  
"Look at this very neighborhood," the urban planner duly noted, "this gallery is standing on Bowery, for example, and it's in the realm of being stuck."  Most of NoHo (which Koolhaas refers to as the white cube), is still currently undergoing a phase between its one-time-previous-self (a kitchen supplies store center still somewhat intermixed with downtown's punk movement territory) and gentrification (the white cube of galleries, high-end shops and restaurants, as well as luxury apartments).  "This is a process that we have arrested, temporarily, in this space: half preserved, half renovated — a fake standoff between authenticity and gentrification.  This is the phase of Cronocaos," the OMA founder expanded. 

The soft-but-highly-dignified-spoken architect made the entire gallery a very hyper alert listener — so as we wouldn't miss a word of this highly dense conversation — targeting and addressing relevant spacial projects currently being implemented or at least planned around the globe.  Koolhaas, for example has been commissioned to help solve and designate spatial issues in Venice, Beijing, and Paris, among many others. 

The theoretical-urban-planner has never denied his predisposition to seizing an opportunity: to rebuild and redefine--and most of all, not to be blinded by conservation for conservation's sake.  

In his interview with Charlie Rose post September 11, 2001, Koolhaas (who prides himself as a New York City resident) admitted, "I like the future not the past." Although Koolhaas understands fully well that one must consider the past enable to create the future — in the same interview, the "academitect," candidly expressed some disappointment with how New York responded to the spatial aftermath of 9/11,  having hoped that the tragic event would have given birth to a newly revitalized, regenerated city, and that the response would've been more of a rebirth of Kool, rather than fervently honoring what had been. 

"Ultimately, I'm an architect," Koolhaas retorted to a slew of political questions Rose had thrown at him as the heated discussion had spun from governmental structures (in the States versus Europe), to Europe's point of view on America.  The architect believes that conservation of space should ultimately be left omnipotent to the architect — mainly because he sees architects as "unapologetic about modernity thereby, enabled to preserve the tradition of pro-creation."  And ultimately, Koolhaas sees the challenge at hand as not how we can conserve to serve the past, but how we can preserve without disturbing the future — but most of all, how we can resolve the state of purgatory he refers to as Cronocaos

Cronocaos by OMA at the New Museum on Bowery
Images by Dawn Elardo 
For more information on the exhibition, see below

Bookmark and Share


Opened to the public on May 7 - June 5.  
The exhibition takes place at the 
New Museum’s 3,600-squarefoot, 
partially renovated, ground-floor 
space at 231 Bowery.

Browse Rem Koolhaas Books
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...