Rem Koolhaas is usually praised for his revolutionary work and controversial theories in his writing and architecture. His book, Delirious New York, is both a celebration and analysis of New York city where it depicts it as a metaphor for the incredible variety of human behavior and nature. This research paper aims to critically analyze Koolhaas’ Delirious New York to understand the referents and contradictions found in his book, as well as examining and redefining what his theories and approach mean in today’s architectural and urban world. This paper does not intend to just be critical of Koolhaas work for the sake of being critical, but instead, it aims to fully analyze and breakdown his approach. Moreover, I intend to also look at how architects like Rem Koolhaas are, to this day, play such a vital role in rethinking the future of building structures, and cities that will continue to redefine the urban life for years to come. Delirious New York was one of Rem Koolhaas’s first major publication, and right at the beginning of his book, Koolhaas describes in his own words that this publication acts as “a retroactive manifesto for Manhattan”(1). However, one cannot help but question, what is a retroactive manifesto? How does the way Koolhaas use New York city as an example of this manifesto? As we know, New York has already been built and shaped by the architects at the beginning of the 20th century. Koolhaas analyzed Manhattan knowing its history, how it came to be, and aided by years of research, was able to create the ideology of ‘Manhattanism.’ “How to write a manifesto – on a form of urbanism for what remains of the 20th century – in an age disgusted with them? The fatal weakness of manifestos is their inherent lack of evidence. Manhattan’s problem is the opposite: it is a mountain range of evidence without manifesto.”(2)Koolhaas tells the story of Manhattan, a ‘mythical island’ and setting of an urban experiment in which the city becomes a factory for man made experiences, a laboratory to test the potential of modern life. He claims that ‘Manhattanism’ is the one urbanistic concept that revels in ‘hyper density’ and is fueled by the splendors and miseries than come with the urban condition of man made living. ‘With Manhattan as an example, this book is a blueprint for a culture of congestion.’ The controversy around Delirious New York mainly revolved around the many solutions Koolhaas offered New York City ills of society. Moreover, this was during the late 70s and early 80s when New York was nearly bankrupt and crime ridden. Koolhaas claims that New York is the city to be analyzed because, while many other cities had manifestos that were never fully realized, New York was becoming rapidly realized without any manifesto. “There is no manifesto, no architectural debate, no doctrine, no law, no planning, no ideology, no theory; there is only – Skyscraper.”New York was a city, (and still to this day some might argue), a place that was growing nearly out of control to service and deliver what the people wanted as efficiently as possible without questioning its morality. It was a blatant criticism of the modernist moral imperative. As we have learned in class, the modernist architects had good intentions about their approaches to the design of the city and how the architecture of a place would inform a more positive social conduct. However, quite often, the opposite occurred. Modernist ideals of the city led to great inefficiencies and delivered cities that were designed for how humans should be and not ow they actually are. Koolhaas recognized that it is impossible for any single architect to predetermine how humans should behave collectively and that human behavior itself should dictate the form of architecture and the city. New York City is his example. He goes on to claim that by having a few rigid constraints like the grid, and otherwise minimal regulations, that an infinite variety of architecture would be produced, creating some of the most successful architecture in the world. Koolhaas legitimized his manifesto through the mythification of history and the uses of metaphor, allegory, symbol and irony. It looks at how poetic language is put to the use of presenting Manhattan as a model of reality and the city as a discourse, an infinite chain of metaphors that reverberates at the level of not only verbal devices but also objects, concepts and issues. Delirious New York is composed almost entirely of dialectical tropes-opposites, odd couples or alter egos-on the level of verbal devices, buildings, symbols and movements. It aims to bring together the real and the ideal, fact and fiction, the metaphorical and the literal. After reading Delirious New York, going on top of skysrapers would become more like climbing mountains for you begin to understand that this is a true American innovation. No where else in the world do you see cities like this before the early eighties. One cannot help but compare the insane growth of New York decades ago to cities that are currently booming and developing. Speaking from experience, twenty seven years of living in the United Arab Emirates, Since the confederation of the seven United Arab Emirates in 1971, the region has been transformed by sweeping and rapid development. The most famous and remarkable transformation is the story of Dubai.(3) Dubai has emerged as a leader in tactical deployment of narrative as a tool of urban branding. Its boosters draw upon the mythos of the exotic desert-city oasis, or suggest that Dubai is a neoliberal free-market development legend or a techno-utopia in which human ingenuity conquers all obstacles. During the pre-oil period, compact growth in Dubai was based on a 1960 master plan, prepared by British architect John Harris, that called for provision of a road system, land-use zoning, and creation of a new town center. The master plan laid the foundation for an urban network and a system of municipal services. However, it proved to be a slow vehicle for development and did not foresee the subsequent explosive growth of the economy and city.(4)One of the reasons why Rem Koolhaus is so successful is that he is able to effectively articulate his architectural theory through the manifestation of his physical buildings. At first glance, they are so strange and provoke thought. Some have criticized his ideas in that they are a series of sophisticated business plans smuggled through architectural theory. He is also criticized for selling these ideas as a manifesto and using them as his portfolio, yet praises context without manifesto. This is intriguing because he praises context without manifesto because they allow ideas to grow, mutate, and branch off. In this way, ideas organically crystallize the most relevant and novel ideas that exist. Some may see his writing style as sensational with editorial bias to manipulate the reader to agree with his truth. He takes extreme and absolute positions which at times contradict one another. However, I see this as Koolhaas playing devil’s advocate with his own ideas, which suggests a truth in that he does not have all the answers, but is presenting alternative viewpoints based on his perceptions.He also does not sugar coat anything. He articulates the culture of congestion and the behavior it manifests whether good or bad. He claims that to fully understand the reality we live in, we must embrace the truth of contradictory forces. He personalizes and sexualizes objects make the subject matter more proactive which could be interpreted as a cheap ploy for scandal like attention. He goes on to show how Manhattan is a success because it is the product of many unrealized failures. Many of the most successful innovations are the product of countless failed attempts. In this way, there was no top-down plan for New York City, but a continual slew of architectural iterations to supply what people demand.Koolhaas documents how these conditions gave way to the birth of the Skyscraper. Skyscrapers were seen as utopian for they could deliver a number of sites on the same plot of land. However, each floor is cut off from each other, creating a disconnected environment. The Skyscraper becomes a monument within itself because of its sheer volume. He theorizes Manhattanism, where dialectic dualities or inherent contradictions that are fueled by hyper density can coexist and act as a source of creative inspiration for the city. He demonstrates how the exploitation of congestion is the paradigm for Manhattan’s architecture.He goes on to describe The Rockefeller Center as a truly functional building designed by committee. Rather than a single architect designing and iconic building, he describes The Rockefeller Center as being formed by the people of the city. The building’s form was not predetermined but took shape on a number of massing exercises. This is an example of how the architectural firms OMA and BIG operate. They derive a number of massing forms that are informed by the site and program and allow the building to grow and shape itself. Another potential weakness is that many of Koolhass’ ideas extremely abstract allowing a number of contradicting conclusions. In my opinion, this forces the reader to strongly consider both sides of an argument despite their preconceived prejudices.Rem Koolhause talked about some of his projects, like museums, are becoming so big that the program of the building gets lost and different spaces are transient and ever-shifting in purpose. After a while, these kinds of evolutions for new buildings, he sees as monotonous, therefore he finds it more intriguing to convert old buildings with 21st century programs. He also acknowledges that this is the first time in human history that we can create truly random and arbitrary forms. This is both exciting and alarming. While he does feel that asymmetrical and surprise moments in spaces and architecture can be delightful and should be sought after, he does believe that the landscape can’t be totally random. Some familiar forms are also needed to anchor a sense of place to some cities. Rem Koolhause wants to infiltrate and redefine things. He is weary that the main design in architecture in the future will be of comfort. He claims that this will be too boring and predictable and fears the loss of spontaneity in the urban landscape.Rem’s controverislal ideas first emerged with his creation of his architecture firm, OMA. They became known for creating their own terminology with ideas such as Manhattanization, Junk-Space, Bigness. I believe that the balance between the dialectical dualities of the pragmatic and the esthetic inherent in architecture is thrown off by centralized authorities which artificially inflate bubbles of capital that confuse and increase the scale of development beyond the realm of the human leading to failed urban morphologies. My future firm seeks to understand how architecture and urban design have an influence on human behavior and how they inform each other. I agree with Delirious New York and the general criticism of the modernist moral imperative. I am interested in exploring more about disruptive architecture, about being able to use ecological constraints that inform three dimensional growth that is fully integrated in the natural landscape. Looking at the context in which my future practice will be, in growing cities like Dubai or Abu Dhabi, there is a natural reaction from citizens and from governments when their cultures are not reflected in urban building projects. Which often happens in places such as the Gulf, where the majority of architects are international and make it their business to be contextual. Dubai is one of the Gulf cities that experienced a boom in the past five decades resulting in exponential growth in the construction industry as well as in the cultural and commercial importance. As a result, their projects will feature doves, camels, falcons and other first-degree symbols of local history. In his book, Delirious New York, Koolhaas writes that, “Manhattan is the 20th century’s Rosetta Stone.” I believe that with Koolhaas vision in mind, and looking at cities I’ve lived to see grown and develop within the past few decades, a few cities that play this role in the 21st century. Cities like Doha and Dubai which are city-states reinventing themselves on every level when it comes to; education, politics, culture, entertainment and sports while trying to target their cities as future international transportation hubs as well. The reinvention and the re-imagining of cities is taking place all over the world. Cities are machines for emancipation. When the striving for emancipation is at its most intense, when there is the clearest promise of success, change is at its most intense. That is why cities in the West are so morose in comparison to emerging cities in the Gulf where the culture and behavior of people is to strive for the best, the most and what they did not have or in many ways glorify the west for achieving before they did. They see that they are in a constant race to catch up and thrive for a better change and lifestyle, where in the West, change is slow or stagnant. In these places—particularly in the Middle East and Africa—real change is happening now. Similarly, Koolhaas’ influence on the architecture of Dubai was taken as a given for the last decade. When he compared Dubai to New York in a recent interview, You’ve said Dubai, as a prototype, forced you to rethink some assumptions. What were those assumptions? And how can that be relevant in other cities?RK: I think Dubai is a complicated situation. In a typical situation, serious architecture is an exception in an otherwise generic context. In New York, 99 percent of the buildings used to be neutral or indifferent or whatever and then there were some exceptions. In Dubai in that period, everything was an exception and so it…forced us to reconsider how supposedly serious architecture can coexist in such a situation or be plausible in such a situation. Some people think the architecture here is ridiculous. I always felt that it’s very challenging, also in terms of how, within this context, you can articulate what you want to do and what people might need and what they might want.Koolhaas’ perspective of Dubai as a young city is that he acknowledges its lifespan to this day, he sees it as a city that grows and changes by the hour, day, and in correlation with time, its growing velocity is “perhaps the strongest demonstration of how cities are made today.”?