ABSTRACT

Pitching OMA’s project for an office tower in Manhattan, in 2012,1 Rem Koolhaas directs the attention of the competition panel to his authorship of Delirious New York: A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan.2 “What I wanted to do is look at New York as if there had been a plan. Europeans have a lot of manifestos but then don’t realize something, but in New York there was a lot of realization but no manifesto,” he explains, as the book’s cover appears on the screen to his right. “Anyone thinking about New York has to think about the implications of the grid. It was my conviction that the grid, on the one hand, is very rigorous and authori - tarian, but that in that rigor it also enables a lot of imagination,” he continues, accompanied now by a map of the city’s street plan. A further image of the Manhattan grid appears, this time identifying the precise location of the tower, at 425 Park Lane, and illustrating the rationale from which its torqued form is derived: “I think it’s a site that’s pulled in two directions, both to the north and to the south . . . so we then started to look at shapes that were perhaps expressing, articulating, that double pull.” After elaborating, among other things, on the ways in which the tower’s atypical shape appears to shift in relation to the perspective of the viewer, Koolhaas presents his concluding argument: “In a city which is almost dying of generic shapes, but which also doesn’t need needless extravagance, it is a beautiful in-between of something that has not happened before, but is still very polite towards everything which is there.”