KENT KLEINMAN: This is an enormous pleasure for me to welcome you alumni, students, faculty, and staff, to what we think, if our numbers are correct, is the largest gathering of Cornell architects, artists, and planners in our history, which I think means in history.
Back in 2009, when I promised the graduating class that we'd have a little gathering when Milstein Hall was complete, I really had no idea what I was getting into. The numbers grew a little bit. You can look forward to what looks like will be a 36 hour, 800 person, double dome party, the likes of which this college has never witnessed. Welcome, again.
The large number of individuals who gave their time, energy, and creativity to help this college during what was a critical and I would say even existential phase over the last decade is very large. I will take the opportunity today and again tomorrow to thank a number of them on behalf of the college and to many of you made this moment possible.
But first and foremost, I want to recognize the Milstein family for sticking with us for what was almost a decade and recognize them tonight. Thank you.
That's a decade of pent up applause. I also want to extend my heartfelt thanks to many, many of you in this room who are donors to this project and vocal supporters of this project. Thank you very much for your support.
I want to recognize also the important contributions of my predecessors, who pushed hard and pushed persistently, although I have to say they didn't always push in the same direction, to make this project possible. And let me name them. Porus Olpadwala, who could not be here tonight because his plane ran into difficulties. Anthony Vidler, Stan Taft, and of course, Mohsen Mostafavi, to whom we have the debt of gratitude for bringing Rem Koolhaas and OMA for this project. They all pulled a huge amount of weight and I thank them.
I also want to thank the AAP staff who worked tirelessly to organize this weekend. Let me tell you that we don't do parties regularly here. We do many other things, but nothing like this. Events manager, Beth Kunz, among many others, worked tirelessly to put this together, and I'd like a round of applause for Beth please.
I will do my best to moderate the events this weekend, and I have parenthetical remarks, attempt to moderate the events, but not your behavior. And I will try to address logistical questions along the way. Let me give you one useful tip, maybe the one that you need to remember, if you have a question, ask somebody with a red badge. Red denotes staff. And as you might recall from your student days, if you want an answer rather than a critical re-framing of your question, you should ask a staff person [INAUDIBLE].
You should have a program guide. You should have a lanyard color coded to your academic department. Events are reserved for those who have registered, so when you walk around in and out of the building, please wear your badge so you can get in and out.
Before I came to Cornell three and a half years ago, I thought the long and publicly secured this path to a design for this building was the result of internal differences. I was wrong. It was not. At stake with Milstein Hall were matters that were deeper and I think more fundamental to the future of the department, the college, and actually to the university itself.
The underlying questions like this. What was the proper place for a cluster of disciplines that are neither science nor humanities, but rather a third hybrid mode of critical inquiry? Was the art and science of place making really a full fledged member of Cornell's intellectual firmament? Did Cornell truly embrace our forms of research and discovery? And could the departments themselves speak with common cause in addressing the pressing issues facing global communities?
This building has often been described as an imperative necessitated by accreditation. This is not untrue. That this project could only be completed when we had answered the above questions. And standing here today, there can be no doubt about our position. The disciplines in AAP are indeed at the forefront of urgent questions facing societies globally, the intellectual and creative collaborations across disciplinary boundaries, both within the college and beyond are vibrant and vital to this university.
And AAP's knowledge remains are broadly embraced now as a framework for an impressive range of scholarship and research across the campus and across the globe. The core challenges associated with this building were therefore never merely formal, and the resulting project is both a remarkable accomplishment architecturally, and a transformative pedagogical tool.
It is by design that Milstein Hall functions as connective tissue, uniting students and faculty across departments. The lively dialogue with the present in the past that your experience in this building is both a quality of the architecture itself and the quality of our academic mission. And it is not happenstance that Milstein Hall announces itself as a bold public face for this university, for this is how we understand our goal, urbanistically and academically.
Given the complex nature of the task to design not just the building, but really an educational construct, it seems in retrospect almost predestined that eventually we would intersect with this generation's most intellectually precise, and conceptually imaginative architectural mind. No contemporary architect in my opinion, other than Rem Koolhaas, could have clarified with us and for us and embodied in space and material our complex needs and our aspirational spirit.
You will have a chance and have had a chance to see this extraordinary instrument called Milstein Hall at work today and tomorrow. And you can form and will form your own judgments. I can tell you that the transformation of the college is very profound. And I want to thank Rem, thank OMA, thank partner Shohei Shigematsu, thank project architect Ziad Shehab, and thank the entire OMA New York office for this inspired and inspiring building.
It is a great honor to have Rem with us this afternoon. He has lectured three times at Cornell during the course of this project. Each was a public tour de force. Today instead of a keynote lecture, Rem has agreed to a more intimate, and I suppose I should put that in quotes, a more intimate presentation, followed by a discussion and a chance for you to ask questions of him.
We only have one hour together with Rem, so I will not use more of his time or your time with a long introduction. Suffice it to say that this college, this university, and I am deeply indebted to Rem. And it is and will always be an honor to have you in our midst. Please help me welcome Rem Koolhaas.
REM KOOLHAAS: I was asked to do a short autobiography and I decided to respond and therefore I pretend to not to be completely sincere or humble and try to assemble a brief series of episode that kind of ultimately shape our architecture. And so I will basically take the highlights.
I was born in this city at this moment. And you can only say that that is probably a disaster. On the other hand, it's probably also an ideal moment for an architect. And it is probably also no coincidence that I'm still working in the city and that this city has become known for its new architecture.
When I was eight, my parents took me to Indonesia, which had recently become an independent country. And for that reason, my father was a journalist who had taken the Indonesian side against the Dutch, who didn't want to give up Indonesia. And it meant that I had to live for four years as an Asian, go to Indonesian schools, Indonesian Boy Scouts, speak Indonesian, and therefore experience both the experience of Islam as a kind of practice and also experience a very vigorous and emerging country in Asia.
My father was, because he had chosen the Indonesian side, quite frankly, with the leader of Indonesia at the time, Sukarno, and in the years I was there, Mao was a visitor, and Richard Nixon.
Perhaps also because of this training or this early experience, I did not know what to do when I was 18. And because I didn't know what to do, I became a journalist. Because journalism is a wonderful profession for those who have not made up their mind, because it is going to be a series of very short engagements with different subjects.
And one of my engagements was with movies and with film. And here I'm at 19, interviewing Federico Fellini. In '68, I was a journalist in Paris when the revolution worked out. And basically, that event had a kind of galvanizing effect on me.
And I decided at that time, when I was 24, to become an architect. So there suddenly I was from a relatively affluent young person, I became a student again. Quite a troubling experience, particularly because it was in London at the time of flower power.
And for a European, it was extremely of my interest. It was extremely hard to absorb and to understand the kind of architecture that was being taught there. This is a kind of a diagram of Peter Eisenman's Archigram. And you can see it is about typical '60s things, like glamor, beauty, and fun.
So with my continentals training, I felt a complete misfit and had to orient myself on other kinds of architecture and also experiences. And I became quickly convinced and inspired by Moscow and what Moscow meant in modern architecture, and particularly by one architect, Ivan Leonidov, who was born on the Russian countryside who came to Moscow when he was 16, who went to an art school, the Vkhutemas, and who, at 24, was a fully fledged genius, defining the new life.
He was in such an incredible hurry that he would do competitions on black boards with chalk. And so this was a drawing that he did on a black board in eight hours during a single evening. And for me, architecture produced at that speed and also of that explicitness in terms of how to organize life became very, very exciting.
So in other words, I was not so much interested by the shapes. As you can see, the shapes are essentially dull. But I was interested by the dimension and ambition to organize life differently. This was a drawing also in charcoal.
In a way to launch my own private polemic with Archigram. I decided to study something kind of really sinister. Architecture, and I took the Berlin Wall. The Berlin Wall was then seven years old. And we had in our school curriculum had to document a single existing building. And so I went for the Berlin Wall and simply reconstructed its history. And this is how it began. So you got a row of soldiers on the line. And this is how it quickly became a kind of physical barrier between two city halves.
But the more important thing looking at Berlin kind of did for me is it exposed me to the work of Mathias Ungers, Germany's most creative architects and famous architect at the time, who had been a professor in Berlin. But just when I was in Berlin, I think it was '69, he had to come to Cornell. It is Mathias Ungers. Mathias Ungers for me was an absolutely unique architect, because I think his drive was not entirely to do new things.
I think his drive was to love architecture and to love buildings that exist. And I think this unique focus on both exists is it's for me the genius of Matthias Ungers. And I don't know anyone who would be so contagious and talking about what exists and seeing the ingenuity what exists and seeing the beauty of what exists, also ostensibly it is ugly or dilapidated.
And what was really brilliant for me for Mathias is that by simply projecting love or love of beauty on what existed could extract kind of somehow new things that were seemingly shaped by those existing conditions. So that was true for buildings, but also of urban texture. But they also loved profoundly and respected profoundly by in Mathias is that he could be, if he wanted to, chaotic. And if he wanted to be extremely rational, and I don't know anyone who was so fluid in terms of kind of moving between those two extremes. And I still think that in itself, we present a very important condition to handle contemporary contradictions.
So I went to Cornell, and that is the reason not even after school, during school, I couldn't stand one flower power anymore, and it kind of went for a year to study or rather to work with Mathias Ungers. Because it was not really studying. It was an almost orgasmic experience of discussing architecture, looking at architecture, which in the end, of course, was very [INAUDIBLE] wisdom.
Ironically, going to Cornell also meant an encounter with Nixon again, 16 years after our first encounter in Jakarta. Because Nixon was embroiled in Watergate, and therefore our first experience of America was dictated or influence on one hand by an incredibly strong European presence. On the other hand, in its incredibly gripping American political cold drama.
If other influences by quite by coincidence. In the building next door, Michel Foucault was giving a seminar on Oedipus, which followed. That there was another French art historian, Hubert Damisch, who was also teaching with Foucault, who became a very lifelong friend and also a very important influence on my thinking.
So what was incredibly fascinating about Cornell at the time is that you could be with one leg in America and in a really turbulent and intense in America, and on the other hand, be influenced by the European [INAUDIBLE], be deeply, deeply influenced in terms of conceptualizing literature or conceptualizing studies by two eminent Frenchmen. And so that in that sense, Delirious New York is for me, a French book written by a Dutch person in English.
Which is, I think, a typical possibility that perhaps is not too easy today. After my year in Cornell, I went to New York and was received and welcomed by Peter Eisenman and Kenneth Frampton in their Institute. Peter Eisenman was doing architecture and becoming increasingly known for his scenes of very rigorous constructs. And I was interested in the people in the most kind of direct sense, because I didn't want to study architecture as form.
I was interested above everything else just as [INAUDIBLE] in the encounter between events, people, and technologies, and Building. And so I decided to study in New York. Not New York as architecture, but kind of really the history at almost the anthropology of New York and the sociology of New York.
And in that direction, I was of course inspired completely by people like Foucault. So here the encounter of the masses. Technology and Coney Island first, but then kind of slowly but surely jumping to Manhattan. And here in this diagram for the first time kind of revealed to perfectly, what a skyscraper? Is it in fact an entrance extrusion of the earth and every plot a different event?
There was one emblematic building that I discovered in that context, the Downtown Athletic Club, for me still a miracle, a superposition of hundreds of sports, to make the body perfect. And very strong announcement of the wave of narcissism that would later grip New York.
And where this was my most cherished discovery, a single floor plan with elevators, dressing areas, a locker room, but two adjoining facilities, a boxing, a wrestling area, and an oyster bar. And making it possible. Their formula, eating oysters with boxing gloves naked on the ninth floor.
And I would still say that if there's any source of our architecture and if there's any source in what we think we're doing, it is really this is the kind of first evidence of that activity, how architecture can accommodate activity but also provoke activity and intervene in a positive way in social life.
The most rounded, perfect example was, of course, Rockefeller Center, which I all studied. And there in a bizarre way, things come full circle. But I discovered that Radio City Music Hall that initially been air conditioned not only with the normal cool air, but also with oxygen, and even with laughing gas.
And that therefore, the system of Rockefeller Center was used to create euphoria in the visitors. And that was a kind of very strong connection to a Russian project by the architect Melnikov, who proposed surrounding Moscow specific motels in which exhausted workers would also sleep in conditions that were, again, artificially adjusted to induce therapeutic sleeping conditions.
Now, that similarity could have been accidental. But what I discovered was that it was not accidental and that the architect of Rockefeller Center had visited Moscow in the late early '30s and late '20s, actually talked to Melnikov and came back with this idea that air conditioning could be more than a pragmatic service, but could be used to transform the atmosphere of building.
And so this architect, Wallace Harrison, then became then for me a kind of a key actor, but also key representative of a different kind of architecture. So what I'm trying to set up is a kind of polarity between on the one end architects as intellectuals, on the other hand as architects as practitioners of a different way of looking at the profession. And I think that Wallace Harrison was one of them.
What Wallace Harrison also was kind of orchestrate the process of making Rockefeller Center. Rockefeller Center is a fiendishly complicated building. And I think the genius of what Harrison was to orchestrate it complexity in a building that could, in a remarkably short time, come to a conclusion within budget and under incredibly difficult circumstances.
So I became friends with Harrison. And in that sense, it was another very important friendship. Friends with Harrison and [INAUDIBLE] was told by him how the intricate steps of Rockefeller Center, worked even to the point that he explained to me how the office was organized. So that kind of organization or rudder, looking at the architecture as a process of organization of orchestration of the creative process, is one of the things we definitely took away from New York and tried to apply in our own condition.
So another key thing which I would like to convey, particularly to the younger generation, is that if I look back on my [INAUDIBLE] career, the best thing I did was to waste time. I was 24 when I started to study. I was 30 when I completed my study. And when I was completed, I wasted another six years on kind of writing a book, and the net result was that I started even thinking about doing architecture when I was 38.
And those 20 years were an absolutely grandiose investment, simply in ideas, but also making sure that I would not be kind of prematurely depleted. Speaks for itself, I think. And I see in the younger generation an absolute fear for wasting that kind of time. And that makes me sometimes really sad.
So in '75, we were more or less of ready to start. And now I'm kind of looking at the career in terms of the number of faces, because I think a career is, of course, the creation of an individual, but it is also submitted to certain patterns.
So what we discovered, or what I discovered, in retrospect, we had a phrase. It was starving artist started up, take off, and then unfortunately we became star architect. And then after that, we needed to develop intelligence against that kind of reputation. So here start up. We tried to make projections projects, a test of projects, and they were not kind of really entirely seriously intended.
We used New York as an example. And particularly in New York, we used as a kind of test batch or laboratory Roosevelt Island, where we protected a number of kind of absolutely prototypes that tested whether we could find an equivalent architecture to the architecture of early Manhattan. And therefore, it's absolutely an enormous pleasure to now be involved in Roosevelt Island again for Cornell, and very unusual experience to come back after so long.
I went back to Europe in the late '70s. And they're doing things which I think are defining architecture in a much bigger way than we typically acknowledge. One is money and the other one is politics. First money. I believe that the entire development of architecture in the last 30 years has been defined by this movement of Wall Street . An incredible escalation , an collection, not another escalation and another collapse.
But I also believe that it has when defined by politics and politicians. When I came back in Europe, we had Reagan, Thatcher, Helmut Kohl and Mitterand, all incredible leaders. And that was very noticeable in the architecture, because young as I was, I became involved in a radical project of transformation, which was kind of related to the building of the tunnel between England and France. The project was [INAUDIBLE]. And the combination with the terminal and super fast trains, that psychologically shrink this part of investing western Europe in an entirely new situation.
So here I would say that I left in the center of a completely political project, a defined by politicians and by the public sector. And basically, the public sector are working with an architect to define a collective or shared imagination. And typically, nobody ever applies the word in mention to a bureaucrat. But in this kind of environment, that would be still a very legitimate experience.
So regardless of this, regardless of what it was, a section of the New. York on a place which was defined more by technicalities, i.e. Minutes away from London, minutes away from Paris, kin of rather than its Context. It's proper context. So it kind of disembodied, and at the same, own a particular location.
For a while it was the biggest building site in Europe. And during the time in the early, so I was in a Europe constructing a new Europe. I maintained a relationship with . America. And at the time, America was Peter Eisenman. Through the vehicle of the so called any conference. A wonderful organization, which for 10 years kind of really combined or connected European, Japanese, and American architects.
But in that conference, also kind of big tensions and big conflicts became clear between Eisenman and myself, and therefore between a particular interpretation of architecture, the one of Peter Eisenman myself. I kept insisting, as I'm doing in this lecture, that politics and the economy not only influence, but define the envelope where the rich architecture can take place.
And basically, I insisted on this issue not in the abstract, but by producing research. Research in, for instance, the development of China, research in shopping, and basically I brought these researches to any conference where initially they fell on deaf ears. But increasingly, they created an enormous irritation and hostility.
And so when basically in '99, I also kind of really became completely exacerbated by this conflict. I decided to provoke them very strongly, and I gave a lecture, "From Lagos to Logos" in which I presented, on the one hand, my research in the poorest and most dysfunctional city in Africa, and on the other hand, our work for the fashion brand Prada. And that really was a kind of explosive mixture, after which I was no longer welcome in the official definition of architecture.
But I think sometimes it's a pity or tragic is that basically my activities as a theoretician or as a writer or even as a polemicist have somewhat shielded the actual quality of our buildings.
And particularly, how our buildings work. Because from the library in Seattle, which immediately became almost a living room for the entire city, which offers a very pleasant and comfortable environment to do nothing, not even read, to simply exist, which also offers excellent conditions for extreme concentration and labor.
But what is evident is that from the very beginning, almost the moment the doors opened, the building was completely assumed by the population at large. And I would say that that is actually the quality of our buildings. And sorry for being so boastful, but you asked me to be sincere and innocent, and that is why I dare to say it.
Also for instance, in the theater we did in Dallas, I don't know of a single building which is actually such an efficient mixture of building and machine. As you know, it has a theater where the auditorium itself defined by stage machinery so that it can be there or disappear. Again a really original hybrid that functions and stimulates the creative process beyond our wildest dreams and beyond the wildest dreams from the client.
The same you could say, of [INAUDIBLE]. Also a very efficient machine to capture the students that were dispersed over the entire campus, and to offer them an experience of intimacy and intensity. And again, almost a systematic elimination of relaxation and concentration and intensity.
There again, an incredibly natural and immediate appropriation. And I'm very happy that seems to have taken place in this building too. And I'm very grateful to Milstein family, to the dean, and also to Mohsen for parachuting in this kind of situation.
At this point, therefore, I remain a little bit torn between our role as an architect, which is a very intense [INAUDIBLE]. But still also my role as a so called theoretician. End i want to end the presentation by talking about a book Project Japan, which we published a few months ago and which, in fact, an investigation of the Japanese metabolized, and which kind of is focused on what the strength of their success was and which identifies as their strength the fact that a number of very strong individuals kept together and in close connection during their entire life and was not atomized as the entire architectural scene is at this moment. And also kind of worked very closely in tandem with government and with the public sector. And I think that for great architecture, the public sector is and remains a very important condition.
Finally, I'm want to to kind of very, very talk about my current research. After all the attention to cities, I became kind of really fascinated by the apparent opposite of cities. This is a Swiss village 20 years ago. It is called [INAUDIBLE]. It is completely depopulating, because the countryside is increasingly not inhabited. But nevertheless, in spite of this depopulation, it is also multiplying.
And so what I've become fascinated to discover what is actually happening on the countryside. And so this is the existing condition. And in spite of all the attempts, all the laws to maintain that existing condition, it is increasingly transformed in this kind of condition. In other words, in new forms.
And what you see as if in evidence now where there used to be an authentic countryside 100 years ago, now we have ladies from Thailand who keep their houses, render bets, and take care of the children. And my greatest ambition at this moment is to understand what happened between this and this and why. Thank you.
KENT KLEINMAN: Give you a chance to ask questions. I have so many that I wanted to ask and I have [INAUDIBLE] over the last few years [INAUDIBLE]. The project itself has been so foregrounded in anything we discuss that I feel like I never quite had chance. You can keep it low. It was fine.
KENT KLEINMAN: So I'm going to start with where I thought I'd end, just to make sure I get to ask you this question. I have a quote from you about entertainment. It is one of the professions that you didn't self describe, but I think of you almost as an [INAUDIBLE]. And the quote is short, but I think it's effective. Education is, quote, "Anything you need to know that's not on a laptop."
And I was thinking putting that together with the appeal to take one's time and even waste it [INAUDIBLE] could be a kind of curriculum. Could you talk a little bit, given that what [INAUDIBLE] architecture, design the buildings [INAUDIBLE]. You have many profound thoughts about what it means to be trained as an architect. Do you feel good about how this instrument, how those thoughts might guide us in how we will use this program [INAUDIBLE] architecture?
REM KOOLHAAS: Basically, you probably know that [INAUDIBLE] I don't think that [INAUDIBLE] Although I could imagine that if there was a kind of [INAUDIBLE] moratorium on design in all architectures [INAUDIBLE] where we have developed [INAUDIBLE] and where we simply [INAUDIBLE] research and [INAUDIBLE] to the different subjects.
I think the most important thing is what is research. And in that [INAUDIBLE] research is, at the end, not entirely the right work, what we need to know and what we need to look at if you want to assess an issue or a situation.
And there is a very wonderful quality to the school, because it is free and it is [INAUDIBLE]. And where global warming will have an incredible effect, it will double the area that we use for agriculture. And in New York, it is creating an enormous amount of [INAUDIBLE]. The sea is melting, therefore there will be a northern passage. So global warming makes Russia [INAUDIBLE] everything. Else is not functioning in the same-- in the right direction. And there is no population to exploit that unique improvement. So we are [INAUDIBLE] So what will it mean for the rest of Asia?
In order to work in Russia, many populations from the south were [INAUDIBLE] migrate and [INAUDIBLE] So that's why I'm saying it's-- I'm hesitant increasingly to call it research. It's really speculation of what may be possible in the near future and how that can be conceptualized, and how an early identification of a process can help them to get the right steps.
KENT KLEINMAN: [INAUDIBLE].
REM KOOLHAAS: Yeah.
KENT KLEINMAN: So following that, you've made a distinction many times between performance and function and backed away from it [INAUDIBLE] you moved very strongly towards [INAUDIBLE] function.
I'm wondering if-- well, I'm wondering two things. Does the fact that this institution is [INAUDIBLE] amazing piece of [INAUDIBLE] open up anything in your mind where we could forge a relationship that would advance the idea [INAUDIBLE] I think of this building, and I think you've said this a few times, as being a very good example of what that might be [INAUDIBLE].
REM KOOLHAAS: Well, [INAUDIBLE] obviously [INAUDIBLE] intended to have. It's not only [INAUDIBLE] I think it would be an interesting place to begin with this. [INAUDIBLE] I realized that unless you really know [INAUDIBLE] it's very difficult to introduce randomness or accident. And this is [INAUDIBLE]
KENT KLEINMAN: [INAUDIBLE] Preservation. It may have the obvious [INAUDIBLE] in your work for a very long time. There's a beautiful video which I now have [INAUDIBLE] of you documenting the Barcelona pavilions, anticipating the future [INAUDIBLE] And those of you who don't know, it's just [INAUDIBLE]. Done in 1985 or six.
And it is talking about the problems, the opportunities that come with an environment which is aggressively more [INAUDIBLE] preservation and thought. [INAUDIBLE]. This building is remarkable in that it didn't tear down one but instead kept it and joined two together. [INAUDIBLE] Is there something also in preservation that tends towards more about adapting to a given set of constraints and not [INAUDIBLE].
REM KOOLHAAS: I think that [INAUDIBLE] but also traveling here [INAUDIBLE] that idealizes ruins but it also was a very productive lesson in identifying where [INAUDIBLE] was slightly distressed [INAUDIBLE]
In this sense, it became [INAUDIBLE] issue with [INAUDIBLE] saying or implying that the architect only has a limited amount of control [INAUDIBLE] Most of the conditions are imposed by [INAUDIBLE]. Nobody would trust [INAUDIBLE] because we are supposed to be so [INAUDIBLE]
KENT KLEINMAN: Ungers had a theory of urbanism, which I described as dialectical. But it never synthesized. It always had the tension of the [INAUDIBLE] at one of the [INAUDIBLE] It's not about solving problems [INAUDIBLE]
We have about 10 more minutes, and I'm sure there are questions. And there are microphones, if I'm not mistaken, there. Does anybody want to interrupt me? Otherwise I'll keep chatting. Yes sir. Here's mine.
AUDIENCE: I'm curious about this dichotomy between the solving [INAUDIBLE] One can solve problems with research. One can also solve a lot of them with [INAUDIBLE]. So I wondered where that line was drawn for you [INAUDIBLE] where would you describe the end of the research aspect of your work in preparation for the completion of this building and the problem-solving aspect of [INAUDIBLE]?
REM KOOLHAAS: I think that [INAUDIBLE] that everything's [INAUDIBLE].
And that [INAUDIBLE] operation that is basically triggered by talking and walking, smelling and listening. And therefore, [INAUDIBLE] and it can be only started when we went to [INAUDIBLE]
KENT KLEINMAN: I'm going to jump in if you do not, so I have a whole other topic that I want to ask you about. Your work with Prada, with fashion, and with the artwork. You said, I think in a previous lecture that you were dismayed by the shock and awe, the mention of some contemporary art practices that do not allow an intellectual engagement with the work because it's so encompassing.
I know you have on the boards now some projects that are brought to you by interesting kinds of clients, no longer institutions and museums, but actually by the artists themselves, and I'm wondering if you could share with us the nature of some of this engagements and if they are different than or symptomatic of the shock and awe phenomenon that's absorbed the art world.
REM KOOLHAAS: I think that if we have one ability, it is to be [INAUDIBLE] and intrigued and engaged with different conditions. So although yes, I'm critical of the megalomania currently evolved in a lot of art. I also think that art is in a growing, radical transformation of its status.
And what I'm seeing, for instance, in [INAUDIBLE] where I'm working [INAUDIBLE] is becoming almost driving force of the driving narration of the culture. And that, therefore, there is an interesting [INAUDIBLE] between or merger between politics, art, education, and sport that all are contributing to what the country's about. So in other words, that megalomania on the scale of individual artists is perhaps forming in art as a kind of [INAUDIBLE] But we are assuming it is the base and therefore kind of actually, in spite of our reservations, engaging with the art [INAUDIBLE] something that's [INAUDIBLE] and in that sense, [INAUDIBLE] with Marina Abramovic, is an example. And it's unbelievably exciting in the sense that typically you have to really work for your art [INAUDIBLE]
We explicitly [INAUDIBLE] the question to do something which has never been done before, and because we find [INAUDIBLE] to make a theater for performances of extreme [INAUDIBLE] which therefore is a kind of hybrid between [INAUDIBLE] institution, et cetera, et cetera. So [INAUDIBLE] we're seeing is that this new scale of art can also become incredibly radical new form of plant. It's really great that it's not a museum and not a museum. It's about something totally different.
KENT KLEINMAN: Just to clarify, Abramovic is your client for that?
REM KOOLHAAS: She is a client.
KENT KLEINMAN: Yes. Speak up, [INAUDIBLE].
AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] What is the role of [INAUDIBLE] in your current state of architectural practice? You seem to tend toward modernism. But you're very eccentric. I want to know your opinion [INAUDIBLE] does architecture drive form?
REM KOOLHAAS: I would say the question is where you ask the question. So if you ask the question here, I would say no. Not at all. In no way. If you ask the question in China, I would say, form can be very crucial and functional there and relevant there. If you ask Doha, I would say maybe not anymore. If you ask it in Europe, I would say never again.
So for me, the question, entirely contextual.
AUDIENCE: The situation in Europe now is actually very austere, [INAUDIBLE] Inone way, do these [INAUDIBLE] force people to think more clearly about what the role of public [INAUDIBLE] should have [INAUDIBLE]
REM KOOLHAAS: I think it's a very interesting question. And actually Europe, I've tried it past three years to also be involved at the political level, as part of a European think tank of perfect politicians trying to define, certainly, those questions, or answer those questions. One of the group [INAUDIBLE] so maybe in your future it will be-- get my opportunity in my country.
I think you can look at Europe as a disaster. It's morbid. But you can also look at radical political transformations taking place in real time. Therefore, [INAUDIBLE] also unleashing the unique, new creative forces in politics. I'm intending [INAUDIBLE] energy and a lot of new insight in Europe.
I think the problem is politicians have so long been guided by the assumed benefits of the market economy that they have discredited their own ability to envision a future or [INAUDIBLE] for their visions. And it is somehow in the market economy, any vision looks a little bit passe and gauche. So in that sense, you can see that everywhere there is an inability or inarticulateness to create a new [INAUDIBLE] positive.
KENT KLEINMAN: I'm given the sign by my boss that we should convene in the dome for a reception. Rem will be there to continue the conversation for a little bit. So I want to thank you all for coming. I want to remind you that tomorrow morning breakfast in the dome up in Sibley. Beth, at what time?
AUDIENCE: 8:30 in the dome.
KENT KLEINMAN: 8:30 in the dome. Sorry that's so early. But we have a full day tomorrow. Remember, I hope you have your dancing shoes, because it goes to midnight tomorrow. Please enjoy [INAUDIBLE] Rem, thank you very much.
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From lectures by Rem Koolhaas, John Reps (M.R.P. '47), and William Forsythe to an exhibition of work by Simon Ungers (B.Arch. '80) to a party unlike any the college has thrown before, Celebrate Milstein Hall energized the AAP community as 500 alumni and guests reconnected with 300 faculty, students, and staff for an exhilarating weekend.