The Manhattan Grid devised in by Simeon deWitt, Gouverneur Morris and John Rutherford might have been as a simple economic strategy at the time, the apparently innocuous gridization of a plot of land and the creation of 2, blocks. That decision though, became an urban project that ultimately changed the history of a little island located on the east coast of a young nation, and later would change the entire world with its own archetype of modernity and metropolitan values. Permeating the mind of everyone that thinks of progress for centuries with those endless vertical structures, New York hundred and fifty years later, sits as one of the most utopian realities that humankind has ever created, a true testing ground for Manhattanism or the culture of congestion, as Koolhaas would later theorize. The Grid is, above all, a conceptual speculation.
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The Manhattan Grid devised in by Simeon deWitt, Gouverneur Morris and John Rutherford might have been as a simple economic strategy at the time, the apparently innocuous gridization of a plot of land and the creation of 2, blocks.
That decision though, became an urban project that ultimately changed the history of a little island located on the east coast of a young nation, and later would change the entire world with its own archetype of modernity and metropolitan values.
Permeating the mind of everyone that thinks of progress for centuries with those endless vertical structures, New York hundred and fifty years later, sits as one of the most utopian realities that humankind has ever created, a true testing ground for Manhattanism or the culture of congestion, as Koolhaas would later theorize.
The Grid is, above all, a conceptual speculation. The word retroactive is inserted in the title to denote that it was written afterwards, retrospectively.
Rem Koolhaas is a gifted storyteller. On one hand a historian and methodical researcher, and on the other a creator of fantasies, a narrator that gives way to his imagination letting architectural myths thrive. As with any genius, he clearly sees more than what meets the eye; Delirious New York, A Retroactive manifesto was at the time of its publication in an instant classic, and with merit, Koolhaas combines compelling historical facts with cool prose and unique phraseology.
His storytelling is exciting and well-crafted allowing him to execute an incredibly complex task a task that too easily could have been proven boring such as the analyses of the key projects and developments that contributed to the spatial resolution of the city of New York.
Just as the author would have it, this book is divided into blocks, just like the city he is analyzing and although chronological, chapters that can be read independently, parts of a text that sit independently yet part of the same experiment.
Several developments are discussed : helped by the opening of the Brooklyn bridge in and Williamsburg bridge to Coney; several amusement parks are discussed such as Steeplechase, Luna Park and Dreamland which are developments in the amusement park typology where the culture of entertainment is understood as a self-serving, bordered, facade-architecture entertainment complex.
These passages trace the frenetic phase of s American society and their surreal creation: Manhattanism, the metropolis of congestion, the american sublime disguised as pragmatism. Rem invites us to envision a city of ghosts incarnated due to some historical urban accidents, laws and theorems 3 but mostly to its dreamers and theorists: Raymond Hood, Harvey Wiley Corbett, Hugh Ferris, Wallace K. The Empire State is a building with no other program than to make financial abstraction concrete - that is, to exist.
Le Corbusier, strangely enough trying to convince everyone that its skyscrapers are too small and having too many of them. His anti-Manhattanism created a Horizontal skyscraper and a Radiant City 5 as a better urban alternatives. Dali, realizing that New York surrealism makes him invisible since it is already a surrealist piece, sets based on fascination to conquer the city with surreal acts and with the development of his Paranoid-Critical method and paintings like Angeluses 6 Manhattanism has choked on, but finally digested, Le Corbusier - Rem Koolhaas Frozen Assets Diego Rivera Having been extirpated by the Metropolis, nature is now resurrected inside the Skyscraper as merely one of its infinite layers, a technical service that sustains and refreshes the Metropolitanites in their exhausting existence - Rem Koolhaas The main idea of my analysis of Delirious New York is that this book and its narrator have two main speeds.
And given that the author is one of the most inventive architects and better writers of the century, Delirious New York, holds a microcosm of brilliant architectural ideas 7 and beautiful turns of phrase. Like an unwanted shadow, plumbing will always finish close second - Rem Koolhaas Is this phrase about architecture or about storytelling?
Here the mentioned principle of juxtaposing history and narrative is at play, Koolhaas is simply talking about high-rises getting higher and higher but he also starts weaving a story explaining the creation of additional floors or the multiplication of the plot and with the ambition of building higher comes the sublime, the mystic storytelling and fantastic language, and hyper-modernity and hyper-efficiency, yet lurking behind are always the architectural systems of buildings, with its dirty pipes and concealed sewage, with its inalienable structure and heavy central core reminding us of the things that make us humans, therefore animals.
A novel can remain abstract and aesthetic but with architecture the abstract always gets real.
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Written while Rem Koolhaas was a visiting professor at the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies in New York, and first published in - written during a period of financial crisis, with the city government narrowly avoiding bankruptcy through a substantial federal loan. A utopia that is indifferent to topography, imposing the mental over the real. The grid system in Manhattan predicted the future condition of the city; its two dimensional restrictions gave way to three dimensional freedom, and the millions of people that it now houses was envisaged far before a tiny proportion were even present. Any site could now be multiplied ad infinitum to produce a proliferation of floor space. By separating the internal and external, the monolith of the skyscraper spared the outside world of everyday life, a shell housing layers of reality. Entering a building in Manhattan, even changing floors, could become an act of moving between worlds. Media technologies were structurally integrated into the modern metropolis, as can be seen in the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, Daily News Building, and most importantly the Rockefeller Center.
Shelves: architecture This was a wonderful book. Full of great ideas, telling wonderful stories, giving great descriptions. But what was it about? After I read it a dozen more times, I might be able to tell you. Some clues: It is about Manhattanism.
Koolhaas had been studying at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London since and wrote the manifesto as a reaction against lectures by Tony Dugdale of the architectural collective Archigram. During this period, Koolhaas further collaborated with Elia Zenghelis on several hypothetical projects in Manhattan, such as redeveloping Roosevelt Island  or the design for the Sphinx Hotel at Times Square . In a interview with architecture critic Cynthia Davidson, Koolhaas stated that the aim of publishing Delirious New York was to lay the written foundation to work from as an architect, before actually starting out as one. The gridiron street pattern of Manhattan is shown through the window, with the rooftops of skyscrapers being faces looking at the ordeal. Furthermore, the nightlight near the Empire State Building is the torch of the Statue of Liberty and a tissue in the shape of a Goodyear Blimp can be seen lying on the bed, referencing the zeppelin docking station built on top of the tower. Further versions by the Monacelli Press have been printed in , ,
Delirious New York