From Bauhaus to Our House to Koolhaas: The Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) and Modern American Culture

Christopher Pierce

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapter


Pierce is an architectural historian whose two research specialisms are early modern European architecture, particularly colonial developments, and modern and contemporary architecture in Europe and the United States. The book in which Pierce’s essay is contained explores a number of ways in which the Dutch have impacted upon material culture and society in the United States. Pierce’s architectural history has two primary objectives. First, having identified key themes and ideas unique to early twentieth-century American Modern architecture designed by European émigré architects, he delineates the ways in which the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas and his Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) built and expanded upon those precedents/innovations. Second, he stakes a claim for the socio-political Dutchness of Koolhaas's two most recent buildings in the United States – the McCormick-Tribune Campus Center in Chicago and Seattle Central Library. Overall, in the context of his wider analysis of another original and influential contribution by the Dutch in the United States, Pierce illustrates the significant effect of Koolhaas's architecture on contemporary American material culture. Koolhaas responded to Manfredo Tafuri’s Marxist challenges to architects in the late 1960s and 1970s through his probing use of architectural projects in the USA, the core of modern capitalism. Moreover, in epistemological and practical terms, OMA builds on the economic reality of the Dutch globalizing tradition, one that reached its Early Modern zenith by prioritizing innovation over ideological and moral positions. Recent Koolhaas buildings in the United States advance the debate and vocabulary of Modern American architecture. This output argues that Koolhaas is defending the only way open to architects for architectural immortality: the historical continuum. Pierce was invited to participate in the international conference, Going Dutch: Holland in America, 1609–2009 (University of Denver, 2005). His was one of twelve papers selected for this book.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGoing Dutch: The Dutch Presence in America, 1609-2009
PublisherBrill Academic Publishers
Number of pages38
ISBN (Print)9789004163683
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • Dutch
  • Globalizing
  • Modern American Architecture


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