Totally Tubular Koolhaas
by Michael J. Crosbie
As a commuter train roars into a college campus in Chicago, its noise is suddenly muffled when it enters a stainless steel tunnel that sits atop the new student center. The tube and the building below it are the work of Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas and his firm, the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA). The school is the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), still bearing the stamp of its mid-20th century modernist origins.
Koohaas's building provides a refreshing, direct approach to a difficult design problem while offering a measured homage to the man who put IIT on the architectural map — the illustrious German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.
OMA designed the new McCormick Tribune Campus Center in collaboration with the venerable Chicago firm Holabird & Root as the architect of record. It is Koohaas's first building in the United States although he had already made a splash in New York for his design of the Prada store interior.
The IIT campus center repeats some of the themes found in the Prada store — large public spaces for day-to-day activities, careful detailing, and a melding of the architectural and the digital. >>>
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