Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas’ Miami imprint

Rem Koolhaas
Rem Koolhaas

Rem Koolhaas, the Dutch architect behind the Faena renovation of Miami Beach’s Saxony Hotel, leads one of two firms vying for the $1 billion redevelopment of the city’s convention center.

Koolhaas has joined a circuit of Pritzker Prize-winning architects working in South Florida, already assuring his stamp on the region.

Bold designs made Koolhaas among the 20th century’s most iconic architects and urban theorists. He has written and published a wealth on cities while designing city fixtures like Porto, Portugal’s Casa da Música, the Dutch embassy in Berlin and the pants-shaped CCTV building, China’s state TV headquarters in Beijing.

Harvard’s long-time dean of architecture, Koolhaas is among the rare architects who have transcended the realm of popular culture. Tall and thin, Koolhas, 67, is the inspiration for the Cool Haus Miami ice-cream truck and the villain Kem Roomhaus in the Batman graphic novel, Death by Design.

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

A regular visitor to Miami over 40 years, Koolhaas has long wanted to work here, according to an interview with the Miami Herald. He felt car-dependent suburban living choked the city’s potential. First in Miami in 1972 on a travel fellowship to the U.S., Koolhaas’ ideas were a strong influence on the eventual birth of what is now Miami’s top firm, Arquitectonica.

“It’s always unbelievably beautiful, so that is the biggest asset,” Koolhas told the Herald. “I think there is another city which is unbelievably beautiful, which is Los Angeles. They both clearly have a lot more potential than they are currently realizing. But that also gives them an enormous charm.

“As an architect I always have mixed feelings. On the one hand, your fingers are itching. As a human being, you are happy to participate in the indolence.”

Koolhaas’ Office for Metropolitan Architecture recently won what could be the firm’s most ambitious project to date, designing a 200,000-person “airport city” near a new air terminal in Doha, Qatar.

Last year, the Dutch architect won his first project in Miami — Argentine developer Alan Faena’s Saxony Hotel redevelopment. OMA has planned a compact area along Collins Ave. and 32nd Street, including a ballroom and cultural center and discreet parking garage and the renovation of a smaller, adjacent hotel, the Herald said.