The Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) is a Dutch architectural firm that is based in Rotterdam, Holland, founded in 1975 by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas and Greek architect Elia Zenghelis, as well as Madelon Vriesendorp and Zoe Zenghelis.
Both Rem and Elia met in the early 1970s at the Architectural Association, which is a London-based Architecture School. Rem was Elia’s student, yet they were able to work together to create incredible work such as their first large project, Exodus. Their project aimed to create a linear structure that cut through London.
Right as the Dutch Government was looking for new design for the parliament building, OMA was starting to take hold and gain traction. When the entered the competion at The Hague in 1978, along with Zaha Hadid.
OMA is an international practice that works within the traditional boundaries of architecture and urbanism, yet they are focused on key concerns such as Climate Change and how we can create systems that are resilient.
In 1998 Koolhaas founded AMO, which is a think tank within OMA dedicated to producing non-architectural work including exhibitions, branding campaigns, publishing, and energy planning. They even got the chance to provide a redesign of the European Union’s redesigned flag.
According to OMA, the current European Flag only has a fixed number of stars. Thus, OMA decided to create a new flag that includes a Barcode, however, new Member States of the EU can be added without space constraints.
OMA has always been on the cutting edge and has provided different perspectives that make you think about how we can live a better, more sustainable life.
OMA has always been on the cutting edge when it comes to new designs, as well as new ways of collaborating and working with talents from around the world. It is for this reason that they have joined Architect-US and Diller Scofidio + Renfro to support The Arquia Foundation Scholarship for Architects from Spain and Portugal.
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Architect-US J1 Visa Participants
Gonzalo Samaniego comes from a long line of architects, as his grandfather was an architect, and his mother is an architect nowadays as well. According to Gonzalo, they laid a path for him to get acquainted and interested in the profession. From then on, Gonzalo became interested in sculpture too, so he always wanted to work on anything related to architecture. Now he has gotten the chance to join the ranks of some top architects at OMA. Gonzalo was able to get the chance to work in the USA due to his membership in the Architect-US Job+J1 Visa Program.
Andres Luzano has been working at OMA NYC now for about 4 years and has loved the experience of being able to influence the way that Architecture is practiced in New York City. After studying at the Polytechnic University of Madrid, Andres decided to take on the challenge of working in a completely new country and culture. Andres has succeeded so far as he has been able to gain the opportunity to work at OMA in New York City for more than just his initial internship via the Job + J1 Visa Program.
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As you scroll through the following three projects they have created, consider all of these design techniques and ideas they have implemented.
OMA NYC Selected Projects
Greenpoint Landing Block D will be a catalyst in the transformation of the Greenpoint waterfront from a post-industrial edge—formerly home to low warehouses, rope factories and parking lots—to a new neighborhood. Located at the northern-most tip of Brooklyn, the site will be a gateway to the neighborhood beyond and have a unique impact on the Brooklyn skyline.
The new development will extend Eagle Street and Dupont Street to meet a new waterfront esplanade. Between these new connections to the East River, two residential towers rise together on a trapezoidal site cut by the angle of the shoreline.
Like two dancers, the towers simultaneously lean into and away from one another. The taller tower widens toward the east as it rises, maximizing views and creating a dramatic face to the neighborhood and beyond. Its partner steps back from the waterfront to create a series of large terraces, widening toward the ground and the new waterfront park to the North. A ziggurat and its inverse, the pair are intimately linked by the void between them.
Rather than being lifted on a monolithic base or standing in isolation, the towers are framed by two lower volumes on the opposite corners of the block, creating a continuous edge around the block. Along this edge, subtle folds and shifts mark entries and define a smaller grain reminiscent of the often-variegated street edge conditions within Greenpoint.
The towers and podium are clad with precast concrete panels surrounding large windows that play on a traditional punched window façade while providing a lightness and porosity to the massing. Much like the buildings’ forms, the precast panels are carved by a series of angled planes. The carved faces react dynamically to the movement of the sun throughout the day. This expression changes orientation with each block (vertical, horizontal and diagonal), dividing the tower into a finer scale.
Echoing Greenpoint’s pastoral origins as a neighborhood of family farms, two levels of green space open up to the waterfront. Terraces are framed by a collection of common spaces and amenities. Above them, the towers are linked by a bridge programmed with a pool and fitness center looking over the Manhattan skyline.
Altogether, Greenpoint Landing aims to establish a platform for a new kind of living: connecting past and future, indoor and outdoor, urban streetscape and waterfront.
Images by OMA NYC
At a moment when libraries are perceived to be under threat from a shrinking public realm on one side and digitization on the other, the Seattle Central Library creates a civic space for the circulation of knowledge in all media, and an innovative organizing system for an ever-growing physical collection – the Books Spiral. The library’s various programs are intuitively arranged across five platforms and four flowing “in between” planes, which together dictate the building’s distinctive faceted shape, offering the city an inspiring building that is robust in both its elegance and its logic.
OMA‘s ambition is to redefine the library as an institution no longer exclusively dedicated to the book, but rather as an information store where all potent forms of media – new and old – are presented equally and legibly. In an age in which information can be accessed anywhere, it is the simultaneity of media and (more importantly) the curatorship of its contents that will make the library vital.
Our first operation was to “comb” and consolidate the library’s apparently ungovernable proliferation of programs and media. We identified five “stable” programmatic clusters (parking, staff, meeting, Book Spiral, HQ) and arranged them on overlapping platforms, and four “unstable” clusters (kids, living room, Mixing Chamber, reading room) to occupy interstitial zones. Each area is architecturally defined and equipped for dedicated performance, with varying size, flexibility, circulation, palette, and structure.
The Mixing Chamber, centrally located on the third floor, is an area of maximum librarian-patron interaction – a trading floor for information orchestrated to fulfill an essential (though often neglected) need for expert interdisciplinary help. Librarians guide readers up into the Books Spiral, a continuous ramp of shelving forming a co-existence between categories that approaches the organic: each evolves relative to the others, occupying more or less space on the Spiral, but never forcing the ruptures within sections that bedevil traditional library plans. Upon the opening of the Seattle Central Library, the Spiral’s 6,233 bookcases housed 780,000 books, and can accommodate growth up to 1,450,000 books in the future without adding more bookcases.
Images by OMA NYC
A distinct community within Miami’s patchwork of neighborhoods, Coconut Grove offers an alternative to metropolitan downtown. A new typology of living has emerged in the Grove – one deeply connected with the local community yet offering the intimacy of a private retreat. As the last developable site in a string of large scale condos, offices and hotel buildings along the main waterfront thoroughfare Bay Shore Drive, the site possesses great potential and difficulties. This rare break in an otherwise impenetrable wall of towers is the only remaining connection point between Coconut Grove’s community scale and a series of civic assets along Biscayne Bay. Located at the nexus of the Miami’s urban grid and the bay’s edge, the site has the unique potential to be a seamless connection between the city and coast.
Can the new development facilitate a new type of luxury residential complex that embraces the multiple scales and qualities that intersect at this point?
OMA’s design inverts the local trend of high-density massing and establishes a new approach to vertical living more attuned to Coconut Grove. The site’s porosity was preserved by distributing 1 million square feet of living between three towers across a five acre lot. Residents maintain a connection to Coconut Grove’s lush natural setting as they arrive at the landscaped plinth and ascend to units that enjoy views of Biscayne Bay.
An undulating plinth shapes amphitheater style entrances. A roof landscape creates a continuous grove over tiered amenities including storage, wine cellar, gym, screening room, wine cellar, and storage. From the lobby, five distinct circulation cores accommodate direct access into units. Asymmetrical cylindrical towers provide a diversity of unit floor plans, arranged on axis with the bay. Inspired by the organic shapes of the nearby barrier reefs, the curved plates contribute to optimized views while decreasing wind-loads and improving façade-to-area ratios. Panorama views merge interior with exterior – an attribute of local cottages.
Sculptural perimeter columns bound each tower, directing views toward the bay and providing column-free living. The spacing of these columns addresses privacy requirements between towers, while the orientation of columns mitigates solar exposure. The tapering column profile creates a destabilizing, mirage-like effect from afar, while maximizing their connection to the faceted glass façade on a construction detail level.
Images by OMA NYC
Do not forget that we will be posting more work by OMA NYC in the coming weeks and months, so keep an eye out for more of their incredible work!! Every Friday we will be posting a new Featured Company, so join us again next week!