OMA Will Eat Itself

OMA hyperbuildings

OMA’s Museum Plaza (pictured left), in Louisville Kentucky, will alter the Louisville skyline in dramatic fashion. It has been described as “hyper-rational” by the Koolhaas-groomed, Josh Prince-Ramus, and is essentially composed of four legs supporting an “island” hovering 22 stories above the ground, upon which sits an additional three towers – bringing the entire $305 million structure to a height of 61 stories.

When I saw the rendering this morning, I thought it looked a little familiar, and after some perusing through the AMO/OMA book-mag, Content, I found my answer. Koolhaas is fond of recycling his ideas; we saw him do it with the Casa de Musica in Porto, and we see it again here.

The proposed Bangkok “Hyperbuilding” (pictured right; dubbed by OMA as their “brief, titillating brush with sci-fi”) appears to be both an ideological and formal predecessor to the Museum Plaza. Both buildings propose a radical rethinking of the skyscraper – a concept Koolhaas (correctly) believes hasn’t been truly considered since the 1970’s. With a series of thin towers, joined structurally above ground level, these skyscrapers –more robot hand than phallus– avoid the dreaded dark cores of tower buildings while creating spatial “knots” for program massing. The structures also both accommodate a diverse program – an affinity of Koolhaas’s dating back to his study of the New York Athletic Club in Delirious New York. Although drastically smaller in scale than the Hyperbuilding, the Museum Plaza is no less programmatically ambitious, housing the contemporary art museum for which it’s named, restaurants, retail stores, 85 luxury condominiums, 150 lofts, a 300 room hotel, office space and a 1,100 car underground parking garage.

Museum Plaza Investors are also asking the city for an additional $75 million dollars to improve the surrounding infrastructure – including nothing less than the relocation of a city street and new pedestrian walkways to unite the building with nearby museums. Transit in the building itself is provided by glass elevators traveling along diagonals, transporting people from the street to the island plaza. Again we see similar ideas in the Hyperbuilding, whose proposal included a aerial pomenade and intra-building mass transit infrastructure that also connected the building to the city system.

Construction on Museum Plaza is expected to start in early 2007 and be completed in 2010.


14 replies on “OMA Will Eat Itself”

I’m pretty sure it was the Zac Danton Office Building, La Defense, Paris. Actually had Winy Maas in his OMA days as lead designer. I think it was in S M L XL but I know it more from when still working at OMA in Rotterdam.

hey, when you crib from yourself its all finders-keepers, i guess. and anyway, this thing is pure unadulterated (cut-up) mies, and i mean all of mies, like every project he ever did into one building (composition). its a mies medley, in fact.

I mean, the kickstand or trash chute ride up to the 22nd floor is a Disney Land trick as stupid as any revolving restaurant on top of any stupid skyscraper in any ordinary city.

Louisville is a great old River town with cool neighborhoods and districts and a downtown trying to make its way back from the hell of the last 60 years of modernist zoning.

The $380 Million being spent on this project would be better spent taking the same program of offices, hotel, condos and so on and working them into the fabric of the downtown of Louisville, to bring more life to the streets and public urban places.

This project instead literally sucks all of that human activity up off the street as they say in their video:

Identify public elements

Insert public elements at grade

Optimize tower dimensions

Place towers on site

Lift program (hm)

Flip! (Gosh that’s genius)

Optimize program adjacencies

Connect to context (through a straw, brilliant)

Redirect 7th street

. . . yawn

What’s the over under on the project never appearing in anything remotely similar to the rendering?

Actually, what would be the over/under on the project never actually appearing on the skyline.

I don’t care for the design, but I don’t go downtown that much anyway. A lot of the people who grew up here don’t think of downtown as a hang out area. We’re Bardstown Road/Highlands people. Downtown is for tourists.

I love the design of the Museum Plaza, it will make a huge difference in downtown Louisville where I live. It will be a great contrast to the Michael Graves tower nearby. There is so much horrible architecture downtown, buildings built in the urban renewal era and into the 1980s that destroyed this once beautiful and historic downtown. It should have a big impact.

I like that it will be integrated with or atleast connected to historic West Main St. but I would rather see the development in the less congested east side of downtown where the skyline is growing in a very interesting way. It would have been more accessible and a big contribution to the urban housing boom going on in that area. I suppose the reasoning is to have it located near the other museums downtown but building it near the art district on East Market and closer to the waterfront parks would have made sense too.

I agree with the post that this amount of money spent on making downtown more of a livable neighborhood would be a great idea but I don’t see the Museum Plaza as a negative. 4th Street has great potential that will only be reached when more people and more money are downtown, The Museum Plaza and the many other housing projects that are underway will bring both.

Great Great Great!! I live In Louisville and it is great city and this will be a wonderful building that will help the city in it trio into the 20th century and might even completely skip the 20th century and put us in the 21 century like the rest of the country. I can only imagine how cool Thunder over Louisville will look from that building!!

That building cannot be for real. It looks totally crazy. I thought the egg shape building in London was insane enough (the name escapes me)…

I will have to visit when it’s complete.

Mayby Koolhaas will be cool from across the river, but never standing next to it. Totally out of human scale. Insignificant humans in its wasteland of a plaza, people don’t matter, only the building. When will architects learn??

This project was actually designed by Joshua Prince-Ramus with REX designs. REX was formerly the New York, NY branch of OMA but is now its own company. While I’m sure Koolhaas’s influence is all over the building, his name shouldn’t be associated with it.

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