Andrew's Reviews > Delirious New York: A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan

Delirious New York by Rem Koolhaas
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's review
Jun 29, 2011

bookshelves: urbanism
Read in June, 2011

Koolhaas has great material. New York is WEIRD. And he paints a wonderful picture of it at various historical and spatial stages.

I take issue with his overarching theory. Much like what I refer to as the "things stoners thinking of when watching Wallace and Gromit" school of literary criticism (Baudrillard, Virilio), he prefers wacky style to cogent argument.

A good example of his school can be found in this conclusion I came to while stoned and watching Wallace and Gromit...

"Really, the wrong trousers is just metaphor for Hiroshima. Man is ultimately controlled by his quest for knowledge, and the once-noble project of Enlightenment is turned towards chaos and destruction."

You're stealing my stuff, Frenchmen.

What saves Koolhaas is the fact that he's a working architect and, i'll add, a damn fine one at that. The Seattle Public Library, where I checked out this very volume of Delirious New York, is one of Koolhaas' designs and it's a wonder. If this is the basis for that kind of noble, unearthly, whimsical, and still remarkably practical architecture, I'll take it.
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