Oculus - Spring 2015 - (Page 32)

©Design by REX; rendering by Luxigon feature: PRACTICE Socrates at the Drafting Table REX champions a slow think-tank architecture of methodical problem-solving BY JA n et A dAms s tro n g oshua Prince-Ramus, AIA, came of age as a partner of Rem Koolhaas, heading up the New York office of OMA (Office of Metropolitan Architecture) before going out on his own with the 35-person studio, renamed REX, in 2006. He has fashioned himself a modern Master Builder, reclaiming the responsibilities - and the power - long surrendered by many of today's practitioners. Whereas architects, of necessity, grapple with the conventional aspects of practice, Prince-Ramus does so by preference and passion, immersing himself in all the strategic, if unsexy, mechanics of contract negotiations, procurement, management, execution, and yes, accountability, each an opportunity to advance the architectural process and product. In the face of today's fast-track imperatives, REX champions a slow think-tank architecture of methodical problem-solving. Design is deferred until after key issues are mastered, as the question is not representation but performance: what a building does and how it's achieved. The name REX is a conflation of "RE," the open-ended prefix of enabling concepts like reimagine, recycle, and other reinterpretations, and "X," the unknown factor in the architectural equation. Royal overtones dissolve in a hyper-collaborative architectural culture that debunks the myth of the solitary creative genius. Authorship being "irrelevant," ideas from interns and seasoned veterans are valued equally; Prince-Ramus, involved in every project, appears toward the end of alphabetized credit lists. A hefty ego prevails, of course, but it's less personal and more consortial, more "we" than "I." 32 Oculus Spring 2015 REX's approach to architecture is a direct outgrowth of Prince-Ramus's philosophy studies at Yale and the interlocutor method learned to defend his work at Harvard's Graduate School of Design. Practical application came in 1999 when, in his hometown, he led his first project as partner-in-charge of the Seattle Central Library, designed by OMA/LMN. "I couldn't go into a board meeting as a 29-year-old and say, 'This is my vision.' They'd laugh me out of the room. So the idea of argumentation was necessary and became incredibly powerful." Like a latter-day Hegel in skinny black jeans, an e.e. cummings tattoo scrolling inspiration down his forearm ("Always the beautiful answer who asks a more beautiful question"), ©REX J Dialogues from the Edge of Practice

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Oculus - Spring 2015

First Words Letter from the President Repositioning All Around By Tomas Rossant, AIA
Letter from the Editor The Edge of New By Kristen Richards, Hon. AIA, Hon. ASLA
Center for Architecture Center Highlights
One Block Over Rough Waters: Squalls continue over the redevelopment of South Street Seaport By Claire Wilson
Opener: Thinking Into Other Boxes By David Zach
Mars in the Bronx CASE gets new environmental technologies out of labs and into buildings at (relative) warp speed By Jonathan Lerner
Spinning Research Into Practice Intense experimentation with digital technologies is yielding remarkable designs and products by ARO By Lisa Delgado
A Results-Oriented Think Tank Defining architectural practice broadly enough to include research, theory, and public discourse, Grimshaw’s Urban Research Unit is a full-circle activity leading to a richer built environment By Bill Millard
The Resilience Factor Perkins+Will is making resilience design and planning a growing area of practice and income By Richard Staub
Socrates at the Drafting Table REX champions a slow thinktank architecture of methodical problem-solving By Janet Adams Strong
Architecture in the Social Data Era Transforming our practice to engage new data sources and design intents By Melissa Marsh
Museum as Incubator The New Museum hatches a multidisciplinary workspace to nurture creative entrepreneurs By Julia van den Hout
When Bottom-up Meets Top-down The benefits of community engagement in post-disaster rebuilding plans By Deborah Gans, FAIA
In Print Bricks & Mortals: Ten Great Buildings and the People They Made By Tom Wilkinson Tales of Two Cities: Paris, London and the Birth of the Modern City By Jonathan Conlin Visionaries in Urban Development: 15 Years of the ULI J.C. Nichols Prize Winners By Trisha Riggs, et al. American Urban Form: A Representative History By Sam Bass Warner and Andrew H. Whittemore Preservation is Overtaking Us By Rem Koolhaas, with a supplement by Jorge Otero-Pailos Reviews by Stanley Stark, FAIA
31-Year Watch Architectural practice once embraced dinner plates and candlesticks produced by Swid Powell By John Morris Dixon, FAIA
Last Words Eve of Construction By Rick Bell, FAIA
Index to Advertisers Alphabetical & Categorical Index

Oculus - Spring 2015