Rem Koolhaas, a Reporter of Globalization

Richard Ingersoll 

While his name in English evokes an air-conditioned villa (cool house), in Dutch it suggests one of the major anthropogenic causes of climate change: coal. This came to mind because twenty years ago, in the extremely climatized setting of Houston, Texas, when Rem Koolhaas had escaped from attending an official dinner and asked me to take him somewhere to eat, among our various exchanges on the mutual interest of sprawl I asked what he thought of ecology. He looked at me with his best Buster Keaton poker face and uttered: “I think it must be very interesting,” as if he had never given it a thought. It was most likely a ruse to avoid any association with such a politically correct topic. Like the sculptor Robert Smithson, Koolhaas has an inherent connection to the ethical issues of the environment, but would never want to be directly associated with them ideologically. Thus, in his statement for the catalog of the Venice Biennale that he curated in 2014, Koolhaas relegated sustainability as part of the new Vitruvian triad of political correctness: “As a substitute for the French Revolution’s liberté, égalité, fraternité it has adopted a new universal trinity: comfort, security, sustainability. This new trinity is about to impose an inescapable and irreversible diktat on every domain, and architecture has embraced it with masochistic enthusiasm.”...

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