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S, M, L, XL

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  1,673 ratings  ·  46 reviews
This extraordinary, massive, and mind-boggling 1,300-page book combines essays, manifestos, diaries, fairy tales, travelogues, a cycle of meditations on the contemporary city--and complex illustration--with work produced by Koolhaas' Office for Metropolitan Architecture over the past twenty years. This almost overwhelming accumulation of words and images illuminates the co ...more
Hardcover, 1344 pages
Published January 30th 1998 by Taschen (first published January 1st 1995)
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Aug 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
I didn't read this until now. I was too cheap to buy it as a student, and there was no way I could check it out from my college library (damned grad students could recall any book). I know that for many people (Ben specifically) it was formative of their view of architecture, which must have been very valuable.

To me, though, I think that it is valuable to come to this late. I am less dismissive to this now than I may have been before (I was dismissive of many things that I didn't understand earl
Sep 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Dude, man. What's the point in even trying to write when Koolhaas is out there doing things like this with words? ...more
Feb 26, 2021 rated it did not like it
I understand that to call this book a phenomenal failure is a bold statement but it is one that I am prepared to defend with specific examples, instead of asking you to take my word for it. We will use as a case study one of the most well-known sections in the book, Koolhaas' treatise on the "Generic City."

Have you ever looked at a building that was so ugly that your soul died a little by looking at it and wondered why on earth someone would build something so hideous? The answer lies before yo
Nov 07, 2016 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: planners, builders, visionaries, flower-pressers
Recommended to Kate by: Inside Design Now
"Monuments are embarrassing to Dutch culture: it is not that there is nothing to remember, but Protestant ethics suspect icons that embody, then supposedly trigger, reminiscence. A monument compromises any memory's authenticity." ...more
Mukul Phansalkar
Exceptionally profound
it's the real novel. nothing gaddis vollman bolano wallace makes come close to this thing, and the fact is, it's not always fact, it's perception about a communal but led struggle to absorb MANY ideas and then transform them with physical-material things. brain projections. the emortions of many instead of one. the reverse of the Randian nightmare. and the struggle is in public as much as possible. with a glossary straight out of flaubert. ...more
Mar 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: architecture
I realized that architecture is the ultimate form of art when I saw the Seattle Public Library designed by Rem Koolhaas. Admittedly, until then I haven't expressed any interest about architecture, but seeing this impressive building I was fascinated. Ever since I got obsessed with buildings and spaces.
Rem Koolhaus is the pioneer of post-modern architecture and this tremendous volume is a must-read and inspiration to anyone who is interested in this form of art.
Lee Barry
Feb 23, 2019 rated it liked it
I ordered a copy of the book after watching the (excellent) documentary on Koolhaas, and was particularly interested in his “Bigness” essay.

What I’d like to see is a smaller version with mostly text and a few photographs.

Speaking of bigness, this tome is 1350 pages, so big the spine collapsed.
Kaden Beilman
Dec 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
practically the bible of contemporary architectural thought. koolhaas's "fictional" approach allows him to piss people off without being affected by criticism, because it's psuedo fictional. did the same thing with delerious ny. a genius ...more
João Henrique de Melo Alves
A powerful manifesto on "mega scale architecture" that emphasizes its usefulness on many levels. A short, but definitely worthy, reading. I wish I had read it during my Masters thesis, it would have helped clearing up my argument. ...more
Gürsu Altunkaya
Sep 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Why spend money on a novel and an architectural monogram? Buy this one, get both.
Aug 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Read cover to cover (perhaps not as intended). Of all the impressions from the book the strongest was Koolhaas' mastery of reference, irony, and observation. ...more
Leandro Llorente
Oct 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Bookazine. Excerpts of key thoughts of Rem Koolhaas. A must-read.
May 05, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rem’s ‘Lookbook’ momentarily entertaining
Jun 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Oct 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
I've finally read this book properly from cover to cover for the first time after having encountered it for I don't know how many times since my early bachelor years over a decade ago. As many have known, the essays are really brilliant and I keep thinking about them all the time ever since I finished reading the book. However, the sidenotes were a bit distracting for me. Well, some are witty and funny, some are splendid and somewhat complementary, but there are some that I read quickly just to ...more
Apr 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Important book on the ever changing and complex world of architecture. This book opened a lot of new perspectives on architecture for me as a young student in architecture school. For one thing this quasi-monograph takes an unorthodox and interesting way of representing the work of Koolhaas and the Office of Metropolitan Architecture. Some projects are represented with only images and some notes and others are dense essays on the state of cities/economics. As the title reads, the subject matter ...more
Mar 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: architecture
Rem Koolhaas has established himself as one of the major thinkers of this architectural era beginning with his seminal Delirious New York: A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan. A decade after it is written, the ideas in S,M,L,XL still serve as thought-provokers in the never-ending debate on post-modernity. And not forgetting of course that this is the architectural tome whose format spawned a million copy-cats and wanna-bes.

Read it because you have to; it is the post-modern era's Towards a Ne
Mike Bularz
Aug 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: at-cod-library
An exhaustive collection of years of design work by OMA, Rem, etc. arranged into groups by project size. From an interactive bus stop (S) to massive planning projects and proposed concepts (XL), finishing this opened my mind up and helped me think about urbanism, architecture, and design from different perspectives, and will be a good launching point for finding less mundane material related to planning and architecture.
Nov 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Im not even into architecture. But i absolutely loved this book. Its a NOVEL as such. and so MAD in its telling. its all the projects done by OMA in the field of architecture ranging from their small to XL projects. As random as someone calling them ot a vacant plot of land in Paris and saying i want this odd shaped house and from a particular height on a particular part of the land you can see the eiffel tower so here i want a swimming pool. And they've built this crazy home and it rocks! ...more
Jul 14, 2007 rated it did not like it
i'm not down on rem, i just think he's full of himself.
that's not even a discussion point. i think it's pretty much accepted that he's full of himself, but he has had an interesting effect on architecture.

don't read the definitions. or, read the definitions on clouds. those are my favorite, though i have to admit i stopped reading them in depth.
Isa Braunstein
Apr 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
An explosion of creativity. I remember reading this in college and couldn't help but be inspired to go out and create something, something different. It's a book chocked full of raw creativity. I dare you to 'observe' 10 pages of this book and not start planning a project of some kind. ...more
I am ostensibly reading this at the moment.
Aug 20, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: architect
Shelves: architecture
its full of architect great works!
rossi awan
Sep 03, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: architecture
it's a novel of architecture
very inspiring me...
Jan 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Atelcs by: zac whittenburg
If you're going to bother to think, you might as well think big. ...more
Scott Suthren
Jan 25, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sends your mind spinning.
Aug 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Bible of Architecture!
Nov 13, 2008 marked it as to-read
i own this but haven't read much of it yet. ...more
Tricia Perdigon
Jul 29, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
a bit difficult to read, but once understood its very inspiring. Difference in structures by size.
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Remmert Lucas Koolhaas (born 17 November 1944) is a Dutch architect, architectural theorist, urbanist and "Professor in Practice of Architecture and Urban Design" at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University, USA. Koolhaas studied at the Netherlands Film and Television Academy in Amsterdam, at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London and at Cornell University in Ith ...more

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“Architecture is a hazardous mixture of omnipotence and impotence. It is by definition a c h a o t i c a d v e n t u r e... In other words, the utopian enterprise.” 18 likes
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