Office for Metropolitan Architecture

The Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) is a Dutch architectural firm based in Rotterdam, founded in 1975 by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas and Greek architect Elia Zenghelis, along with Madelon Vriesendorp and Zoe Zenghelis.

Logo of OMA.png
  • Rem Koolhaas
  • David Gianotten
  • Reinier de Graaf
  • Ellen van Loon
  • Shohei Shigematsu
  • Iyad Alsaka
  • Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli
  • Jason Long
  • Chris van Duijn
Coordinates51°55′43″N 4°28′50″E / 51.928500°N 4.480494°E / 51.928500; 4.480494
DesignThe Image of Europe


Rem Koolhaas and Elia Zenghelis started working together in the early 1970s at the Architectural Association, the London-based architecture school, where Koolhaas was a student and Zenghelis an instructor. Their first major project was the utopian/dystopian project Exodus, or the Voluntary Prisoners of Architecture (1972). This project proposed a linear structure, cutting through London like a knife. Other projects included City of the Captive Globe (1974), Hotel Sphinx (1975), New Welfare Island/Welfare Palace Hotel (1975–76), Roosevelt Island Redevelopment (1975) – all "paper" projects that were not (intended to be) built, and all located in Manhattan, the subject of Koolhaas's book Delirious New York, A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan (1975).[1]

The founding of OMA coincided with the firm's entry in the architectural design competition for a new Dutch parliament building in The Hague in 1978, with Zaha Hadid. OMA was one of the first-prize winners (among some 10 others), and the project was widely discussed and published.[citation needed] The commission, however, was given to an architect who did not participate in the competition. The entry for the Dutch parliament competition was the first of a series of controversial and successful international competition entries by OMA in the 1980s that were not built by OMA.

OMA in the 1980sEdit

OMA's first major commissions were The Netherlands Dance Theatre (1981) in The Hague and IJ-Plein Urban planning (1981–1988) in Amsterdam. Due to change of location a second design for the Dance Theater was made in 1984. Once completed in 1987, the building received international attention.[citation needed] Although full of "first mistakes", the Dance Theater is the first realized design in which the ideas of Rem Koolhaas were made apparent. IJ-plein is located at Amsterdam's IJ, a river that serves as the city's waterfront, opposite the city center. The master plan consists of 1,300 dwellings and several facilities. OMA designed the school, the community center, and two blocks of housing.

A few other designs were realized in the 1980s: a police station in Almere (1982–1985), a bus station in Rotterdam (1985–1987, demolished in 2005), Byzantium apartment block in Amsterdam (1985–1991) and Checkpoint Charlie Housing in Berlin (1984–1990). Two houses were built in this period; the first house was a duo of patio villas (1985–1988) in the style of Mies van der Rohe, inserted in a dike in Rotterdam. The second – arguably the most full-grown design of OMA until that date – was Villa Dall'Ava in Paris (1984–1991). The client, according to Koolhaas, asked for a "masterpiece".[citation needed] He wanted a glass house. She wanted a swimming pool on the roof. So many delays plagued the house that it "became a record of our own (OMA's) growing up".[2]

Several studies were made during the late 1970s and 1980s: Study for the renovation of a panopticon prison in Arnhem in 1979, Boompjes tower slab in Rotterdam (1979), Housing for Berlin IBA (1980, not realised, and the reason OMA would not design anything in Berlin anymore in the 20th century, the Dutch Embassy Building being the comeback),[citation needed] master plan for a world exhibition in Paris (1983). Much more important however were the competition entries OMA designed in this period. They gained the office international fame (but not one design was actually built).[citation needed]

OMA in the 1990sEdit

In the 1990s OMA gained renown through a series of groundbreaking entries[citation needed] in major competitions: e.g., Tres Grande Bibliothèque and Two Libraries for Jussieu University, Paris, France (1993). During these years OMA also realized ambitious projects, ranging from private residences to large scale urban plans: Villa dall’Ava, Paris, France (1991), Nexus Housing, Fukuoka, Japan (1991), the Kunsthal, Rotterdam (1992).

The Euralille (1994), a 70-hectare business and civic center in Lille, northern France comprising the European hub for high-speed trains, transformed a once dormant center of more than 50 million inhabitants into a site offering connectivity, and a range of contemporary activities.[citation needed]

In 1999 OMA completed the Maison à Bordeaux, a villa for a client in the hills outside Bordeaux, France.[3] The villa's most striking feature is a platform in the very center of the house that moves freely between the three floors and allowed the client to move with his wheelchair on all three levels of the villa.[citation needed] The design was conceived in collaboration with engineer Cecil Balmond.

OMA in the 21st centuryEdit

OMA's recently completed projects include the Viktor & Rolf Store in London (2011), Edouard Malingue Gallery in Hong Kong (2010),[4] Prada Transformer, a rotating multi-use pavilion in Seoul (2009),[5] the Zeche Zollverein Historical Museum and master plan in Essen (2006), the Seoul National University Museum of Art (2005), the much acclaimed Casa da Música in Porto (2005),[6] the Prada Epicenter in Los Angeles (2004), the Seattle Central Library (2004),[7] the Leeum Samsung Museum of Art (2004), the Netherlands Embassy in Berlin (2003)[8] and the McCormick Tribune Campus Center at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago (2003).

OMA was awarded the contract for the Seattle Central Library, completed in 2005, despite not having been on the list of firms originally invited to submit designs. Former Seattle resident Joshua Prince-Ramus, a partner, heard from his mother about the meeting for interested firms at the last minute and flew in from the Netherlands. This 11-story glass and steel building is a striking addition to the Seattle cityscape.

In Asia OMA recently completed the massive Central China Television Headquarters building in Beijing, and the new building for the Shenzhen Stock Exchange is currently under construction. In January 2009 OMA won the competition to build a performing arts centre in Taipei and in June 2009 the office won the competition to design "Crystal Island", a transport and cultural hub in the centre of Shenzhen.

In October 2011, the Barbican Art Gallery launched their exhibition "OMA/Progress", the first major presentation of OMA's work in the UK, curated by Belgium-based creative collective Rotor.

OMA (and Rem Koolhaas) are well known for controversial projects such as the proposal to adapt part of the Museum of Modern Art into a promotional space titled MoMa Inc.[9]



OMA's leadership is organized as a collaborative partnership. OMA's current partners are Rem Koolhaas, Ellen van Loon, Reinier de Graaf, Shohei Shigematsu, Iyad Alsaka, David Gianotten, Chris van Duijn, Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli and Jason Long.


OMA maintains offices in Rotterdam, New York, Beijing, Hong Kong, and Doha.

  • OMA Rotterdam — Projects include[when?] construction of the new headquarters for Rothschild Bank in London and De Rotterdam, the largest building in the Netherlands; design development of Stadskantoor, a new city hall building in Rotterdam; the Bibliothèque Municipales à Vocation Régionale in Caen; Maggie's Centre for cancer care in Glasgow; and the Cordoba Congress Center in Spain (later put on hold). The office is also working on several projects in the Middle East including three buildings for Education City in Qatar.[citation needed]
  • OMA Beijing — Projects include[when?] the office's largest project to date, the 575,000 m2 China Central Television Headquarters (CCTV) and Television Cultural Center (TVCC), in Beijing. Other projects in development include a residential tower and residential master plan in Singapore.[citation needed]


In 1998 Koolhaas founded AMO, a think tank within OMA dedicated to producing non-architectural work including exhibitions, branding campaigns, publishing, and energy planning.[12] AMO has produced exhibitions at the Venice Biennale (on the Hermitage museum in St. Petersburg) and Venice Architecture Biennale (on the development of the Gulf, and, in 2010, on preservation),[13] and guest-edited issues of the magazines Wired and Domus. AMO has produced work for Universal Studios, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, Harvard University, Condé Nast, Heineken, and IKEA.

AMO projects also include the development of in-store technology for Prada, a strategy for the future of Volkswagen, a strategy for TMRW, new organic fast food chain, work for Platform 21, new design institute in Amsterdam, a curatorial master plan for the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, and Roadmap 2050: A Practical Guide to a Prosperous, Low-Carbon Europe.[14] In 2008 AMO curated the exhibition "Dubai Next" at the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, and was one of the editors on the book Al Manakh, which details the rapid transformation of the Gulf region. In 2010 in collaboration with Archis and Think Tank, AMO made the follow-up, Al Manakh 2.

Notable worksEdit

Seattle Central LibraryEdit

In 1999 OMA won a competition to design a new central library for the city of Seattle.[15] The Seattle Central Library was completed and opened to the public on May 23, 2004.[15] In 2005, the library earned a national American Institute of Architects Honor Award for Architecture.[16] The building has also been described as "the most important new library to be built in a generation, and the most exhilarating" by New Yorker architecture critic Paul Goldberger.[17]

Casa da Música, PortoEdit

Completed in 2005, the new home of the National Orchestra of Porto, the Casa da Música, stands on a new public square in the historic Rotunda da Boavista. With a distinct faceted form, New York Times critic Nicolai Ouroussoff called it "a building whose intellectual ardor is matched by its sensual beauty".[18] Inside, the elevated 1,300-seat Grand Auditorium, in the shape of a shoebox, has corrugated glass façades at either end that open the hall to the city and offer Porto itself as a dramatic backdrop for performances. As well as the Grand Auditorium, conceived as a simple mass hollowed out end-to-end from the solid form of the building, the Casa da Música also contains a smaller, more flexible performance space with no fixed seating.

Netherlands Embassy, BerlinEdit

Winner of the 2005 Mies van der Rohe Award (the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture), OMA's Netherlands Embassy in Berlin is an isolated cube surrounded on two sides by a perimeter wall. The cube is punctured by a cantilevered meeting room and the visibility of the zig-zagging, interior path through the building.

Waterfront City, DubaiEdit

In 2007 OMA was commissioned by Nakheel Properties to design a master plan for Waterfront City located on an artificial island off the Persian Gulf in Dubai.[19][20] The design for Waterfront City will accommodate as many as 1.5 million people and cover an area of 34,435 acres (139.35 km2). OMA's urban plan for the city includes designs for five large buildings, including one 590-foot (180 m) spherical building that will be designed by OMA and contain a convention center, residences, hotel rooms, and retail stores.[19]

European flag proposalEdit

The Image of Europe, AMO's proposal for the European flag

Following the signing of Treaties of Nice in May 2001, the then-President of the European Commission, Romano Prodi, and Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, Koolhaas suggested a European flag, called the "Barcode". The Barcode unites the flags of the EU countries into a single, colorful symbol.

In the current European flag, there is a fixed number of stars. In the Barcode, however, new Member States of the EU can be added without space constraints. Originally, the Barcode displayed 15 EU countries, and in 2004 the symbol was adapted to include ten new Member States.

Since the time of the first drafts of the Barcode, it had never been officially used by commercial or political institutions, until it was officially used for the first time during the 2006 Austrian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.[21] The logo has already been used for the EU information campaign which will also be continued during the Austrian EU Presidency. There was some initial uproar over the stripes of the Flag of Estonia, which were displayed incorrectly.

Current projectsEdit

As of 2017, OMA's current projects included:[22]


  • Norra Tornen, Stockholm, SE
  • Viktor & Rolf, London, UK
  • Maggie’s Center, Gartnavel, Scotland, UK
  • ABN AMRO building Coolsingel, Rotterdam, NL
  • De Rotterdam multi-use tower, Rotterdam, NL
  • Stadskantoor, Rotterdam, NL
  • Cordoba Congress Centre, Spain
  • Bibliothèque Municipales à Vocation Régionale, Caen, FR
  • Il Fondaco dei Tedeschi, Venice, IT
  • Rothschild Bank HQ London, UK
  • White City London master plan, UK
  • Maggie's Center Glasgow, UK
  • Commonwealth Institute, UK
  • Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design, Moscow, RU[23]
  • Project Japan: A Portrait of the Metabolist Movement (Taschen, December 2010)
  • Roadmap 2050: A Practical Guide to a Prosperous, Low-Carbon Europe
  • Prada catwalk shows, Milan and Paris
  • PasilaOne Tripla, Helsinki[24]
  • The Factory, (Manchester, UK 2019)[25]

North AmericaEdit

South AmericaEdit

  • Centro Administrativo Nacional CAN, Bogotá, Colombia

Asia and OceaniaEdit

Asia PacificEdit

Middle EastEdit


  1. ^ "OMA". OMA. Retrieved January 29, 2017.
  2. ^ Koolhaas, in S,M,L,XL.
  3. ^ "The Best of 1998 Design". Time Magazine. December 21, 1998. Archived from the original on July 1, 2017.
  4. ^ "Edouard Malingue Gallery / OMA", ArchDaily, October 25, 2010. Retrieved November 25, 2013.
  5. ^ Menkes, Suzy (July 20, 2009). "Prada's Brainchild Takes a New Twirl". New York Times.
  6. ^ "KOOLHAAS' CONCRETE CASA". Retrieved July 29, 2017.
  7. ^ Barry, Colleen (April 8, 2013). "Koolhaas unites architecture, design and fashion". AP News Archive. Milan, Italy. Associated Press. Archived from the original on April 13, 2018.
  8. ^ Van Gelder, Lawrence (April 15, 2005). "Arts, Briefly; A Prize for Koolhaas". New York Times. Retrieved July 29, 2017.
  9. ^ "Why is Rem Koolhaas the World's Most Controversial Architect?". Smithsonian. Retrieved January 4, 2016.
  10. ^ "City Insider: Starchitect Rem Koolhaas selected to build tower at Transbay site". SFGate. March 17, 2014. Retrieved July 29, 2017.
  11. ^ "Milstein Hall at Cornell University / OMA". Architecture Daily. November 1, 2011. Retrieved July 29, 2017.
  12. ^ "Men's Vogue, September 2007". Retrieved July 29, 2017.
  13. ^ "Rem Koolhaas Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement". Official Awards of the 12th Intl. Architecture Exhibition. Venice, Italy: La Biennale di Venezia. August 28, 2010. Archived from the original on October 1, 2010.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
  14. ^ "Roadmap 2050". Retrieved July 29, 2017.
  15. ^ a b "Building Facts". Seattle Public Library.
  16. ^ "Seattle Public Library (2004) – Seattle, WA". American Institute of Architects. February 2007. Archived from the original on September 26, 2013.
  17. ^ Goldberger, Paul (March 2004). "High-Tech Bibliophilia". The New Yorker.
  18. ^ Ouroussoff, Nicolai (April 10, 2005). "Rem Koolhaas Learns Not to Overthink It". New York Times. Retrieved July 29, 2017.
  19. ^ a b "Koolhaas Unveils New Waterfront City in Dubai". Architectural Record. March 2008. Retrieved July 29, 2017.
  20. ^ "City on the Gulf: Koolhaas Lays Out a Grand Urban Experiment in Dubai". New York Times.
  21. ^ Tóth, Barbara (September 27, 2005). "Ein Europa, viele Codes". Der Standard (in German). Vienna, Austria. Archived from the original on March 6, 2016.
  22. ^ "OMA Current Projects". Archived from the original on July 1, 2008. Retrieved July 29, 2017.
  23. ^ "REM KOOLHAAS: Consistent Modesty and the Strelka Institute in Moscow - 032c Workshop". July 11, 2011. Retrieved July 29, 2017.
  24. ^ "Proposal for Central Pasila centre uniting Eastern Pasila and Western Pasila chosen". Helsinki News. Finland: City of Helsinki Executive Office. September 3, 2013. Archived from the original on April 13, 2018.
  25. ^ Brown, Mark (November 25, 2015). "Rem Koolhaas wins Factory design project as Manchester goes Dutch". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved November 26, 2015.
  26. ^ "111 First Street: Koolhaas raises profile of Jersey City". Architectural Record. BNP Media. April 16, 2007. Archived from the original on April 12, 2018.
  27. ^ "OMA to Design New Museum Expansion in New York City". Retrieved October 12, 2017.
  28. ^ ZEIGER, MIMI (November 20, 2018). "Rem Koolhaas' upcoming Wilshire Boulevard Temple expansion will balance openness with security". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 25, 2018.
  29. ^ "Perth gets its first Rem Koolhaas as OMA and Hassell chosen to redesign WA Museum". Architecture and Design. April 7, 2016. Retrieved August 18, 2016.
  30. ^ a b Varghese, Joseph (March 13, 2013). "Dutch architect shares experiences". Gulf Times. Retrieved January 28, 2016.

External linksEdit