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There is no progress; like a crab on LSD, culture staggers endlessly sideways… The average contemporary lunch box is a microcosm of Junkspace: a fervent semantics of health—slabs of eggplant, topped by thick layers of goat cheese—cancelled by a colossal cookie at the bottom….–from “Junkspace” by Rem Koolhaas

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Dutch-born architect Rem Koolhaas has designed a new arts center for Miami Beach, set to open in December 2015. The Faena Forum, named for Argentine businessman Alan Faena (who is financing a $550 million redevelopment of the entire Miami beachfront), will be a 50,000 square-foot building dedicated to live arts programming. Other buildings in the Faena project—designed by Koolhaas’ firm OMA—include a retail center and parking garage.

Koolhaas, now 70, has spent a lifetime as provocateur who first achieved recognition as an urban theorist. Architect Frank Gehry once called him “one of the greatest thinkers of our time.” Koolhaas’ 2002 essay-manifesto “Junkspace“, expresses his contempt for the state of modern architecture in a decidedly literary style filled with metaphor and evocative imagery:

“Junkspace,” he writes, “is the body-double of space, a territory of impaired vision, limited expectation, reduced earnestness. Junkspace is the Bermuda Triangle of concepts, an abandoned petri dish: it cancels distinctions, undermines resolve, confuses intention with realization….”

An exhilarating read for anyone who spends time in urban buildings, “Junkspace” sets expections high for Koolhaas’ Miami development: “…we have built more than did all previous generations put together, but somehow we do not register on the same scales. We do not leave pyramids.”


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October, Vol. 100, Obsolescence (Spring, 2002), pp. 175-190
The MIT Press