In his seminal manifesto, S, M, L, XL, a collection of projects and essays from over 20 years of intellectual incubation and professional work published in 1995, Koolhaas critiques modernism’s failed promise of a new urban paradign by provocatively declaring that urbanism is dead.
He argues that pervasive urbanization has modified the urban condition beyond recognition and that the city no longer exists precisely at the moment in time when the world is urbanizing. He faults the modern city’s inability to invent and implement at the scale demanded by its staggering and rapid multiplication in what he deemed a quantitative dilemma which would only be dealt with through rethinking and re-scaling architecture and urbanism as a singular conceptual agency. In essence, Koolhaas is instigating and [re]positioning the dichotomous disciplines of architecture and urbanism into a strategically aligned conceptual, operational an performative framework.
Fast forward 22 years, today we live in a period at an unprecedented rate of urbanization almost as if Koolhaas saw the future through a looking glass in the twilight years of the 20th century, with forces of globalization causing massive human migration into urbanize regions of the world – it is estimated that by 2050, three quarters of the world’s projected 9.7 billion population will be urbanized and the larger questions are how will our cities need to chance in order to accommodate the massive population numbers and how will the role of architecture and its affiliated (infrastructure, systems, technology, resources, nature, programs etc.) actors influence that change? Los Angeles, the most populous city in Southern California along with many of its neighboring cities, will see its own urban population grow in the ensuing decades and the city is itself already undergoing a steep morphological chance with many new construction projects. While the growth is good for the cities economy and is contributing to its ongoing formal/spatial evolution, it is nevertheless doing so in a preserved and reconstituted manner, simultaneously ‘dogmatic and evasive’.
Downtown L.A. Collective Sites