Architecture & the Attraction of Collectivity

Rem Koolhaas pointing to the spot where he sat every day writing Delirious New York in the Rose Reading Room | Photograph by Jori Klein; borrowed from A Daily Dose of Architecture

From John Hill’s A Daily Dose of Architecture transcription of the Koolhaas-Obrist-Holdengraber talk at the NYPL last Thursday, and a follow-up to my Koolhaas & Carrère post from a few days ago: 

The following passage alone has me kicking myself for missing this event:

PH: Before coming here tonight in this room we went to visit the Reading Room, and we went to visit some of the special collections. When we entered into the room both of you were incredibly struck, somehow enraptured, in awe. And libraries, since we’re in one here, have mattered to you greatly. I’d like to ask you to talk a little bit about libraries; Rem, you might also want to talk about the library you built in Seattle. But the Reading Room in particular, you were there, we went upstairs, you saw it, somehow for a brief moment you were speechless.

RK: I speak not as a writer but as the kind of architect I am. I’m deeply aware of the misfit between my profession and the current moment. There is an enormous amount of technology that undermines the legitimacy of building or physical space, and so I’m deeply aware of the vulnerability of architecture as a plausible activity or discipline. And for that reason — I became aware of this in the 90s — what I think architecture can still do, or ought to focus on, is to represent moments where collectivity is an attractive experience rather than an imposition. For me libraries have that incredible quality. Each of us can be motivated by our own motivations, but nevertheless sit together in a room like that, that is an exceptional experience of sharing even though you are completely alone. That is for me what the most interesting part of architecture can be.

No comment. Just…sigh.

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