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The Koolhaas Kids Come of Age

Joshua Prince-Ramus explains why disciples of Rem Koolhaas are moving beyond the iconic Dutch architect's ideas, with a more collaborative style

Rem Koolhaas, the Dutch architect famous for his coy theories on cities -- and, more recently, for dramatic and cerebral buildings such as the Seattle Central Library -- casts a long shadow. No one knows this better than Joshua Prince-Ramus, the majority owner and lead partner of the New York branch of the Office of Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), the firm Koolhaas founded in Rotterdam in 1975. Prince-Ramus and his colleagues are currently designing a theater for the Dallas Performing Arts Center, an art museum and mixed-use complex in Louisville, and an academic building at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

But they are also engaged in creating a new paradigm for architecture firms -- one that forcefully questions the mantle of fame bequeathed to them by Koolhaas, and with it the idea of architecture as an art form defined by independent geniuses. Instead, they are creating a methodology that fosters innovation with a collaborative, highly conceptual approach they describe as "hyper-rational." More importantly, it argues that dramatic, energizing, eye-popping architecture need no longer be the exclusive domain of celebrity architects and their indulgent clients.