Rem Koolhaas, Madelon Vriesendorp The City of the Captive Globe Project, New York, New York, Axonometric 1972

  • Not on view

In honoring Manhattan's "culture of congestion," Rem Koolhaas's 1978 book Delirious New York found inspiration where Le Corbusier had seen chaos. Several projects developed by Koolhaas and his colleagues in the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (O.M.A.) appeared in the book; those presented here were also included in the 1978 exhibition The Sparkling Metropolis, at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.

The City of the Captive Globe Project, which Koolhaas produced with Zoe Zenghelis, focuses on New York's urban fabric: the relentlessly uniform grid that paradoxically supports a multiplicity of functions and desires. The rendering of each block as a fantastic city-within-a-city creates a virtual catalogue of OMA's self-proclaimed influences: Salvador Dali's Surreal Archeological Reminiscence of Millet's Angelus (1933–35), Le Corbusier's Plan Voisin towers, and El Lissitzky's Lenin Stand all frame the captured globe, a metaphor for Manhattan's status as an "enormous incubator of the world."

Publication excerpt from an essay by Terence Riley, in Matilda McQuaid, ed., Envisioning Architecture: Drawings from The Museum of Modern Art, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2002, p. 172.
Additional text

The City of the Captive Globe is a rendering of Rem Koolhaas's intuitive approximation of the architecture of Manhattan. This drawing, according to the architect, celebrates Manhattan's "culture of congestion," presenting a relentless grid as Manhattan's overriding characteristic. Within this scheme, each city block is designated to embody a different value or philosophy, among these are many avant-garde movements previously thought of as incompatible. Each block, which is itself a city, is surmounted by a structure that represents its function or identity, for example, El Lissitzky's Lenin's Stand, Le Corbusier's Plan Voisin, or Wallace Harrison's Trylon and Perisphere for the 1939 New York World's Fair. Koolhaas's metaphor proposes an urban model in which unity accommodates heterogeneity.

Publication excerpt from an essay by Bevin Cline and Tina di Carlo, in Terence Riley, ed., The Changing of the Avant-Garde: Visionary Architectural Drawings from the Howard Gilman Collection, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2002, p. 122.
Gouache and graphite on paper
12 1/2 x 17 3/8" (31.8 x 44.1 cm)
Gift of The Howard Gilman Foundation
Object number
Architecture and Design

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