Rem Koolhaas: Delirious New York: A Retrospective Manifesto for Manhattan ( ). A précis by Emma Watson Delirious New York: A. Since its original publication in , Delirious New York has attained mythic status. Back in print in a newly designed edition, this influential cultural. by. Rem Koolhaas. · Rating details · 2, ratings · 91 reviews. Since its original publication in , Delirious New York has attained mythic status. Back in.

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Eric Kraft’s most recent novel is Flying. Kraft taught school and wrote textbooks; he was the co-captain of a clam boat, which sank.

Delirious New York: A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan by Rem Koolhaas

My son Alexis, who is an architect, gave me Delirious New York years ago. I had the flu, so I took to my bed and read the book, delirious much of the time and fascinated all of the time.

I kept bursting from the bedroom, raving, “Listen to this” or “Look at this,” or “This is hilarious” or “This is brilliant! Rem Koolhaas’ Delirious New York is rdm of that. It combines a singular history of the city with a lively and sometimes outrageous “retroactive manifesto” about architecture and city planning.

The result is a highly idiosyncratic work of art in which text works intimately with illustration, and many types of writing dance together. For Koolhaas, the driving force behind the creation of Manhattan is “an unformulated theory” that he calls Manhattanism. When and where does he claim Manhattanism began?


Aroundon Coney Island, “a Metropolis of the Irrational,” where the strategies and mechanisms that later shaped Manhattan were tested Some of the book’s illustrations are so richly detailed that I examine them with a magnifying glass — and the effort is rewarded.

Take the map showing the original grid. Inmore than years ago, a commission imposed on Manhattan island a grid delifious 12 avenues running north-south and streets running east-west. There it is on the map: The Grid — the skeleton of today’s Manhattan.

It’s virtually the same as you would see it on a map today; it just happens to be mostly empty. Manhattan’s collective experiment in urbanism is controlled chaos.

The Birth Of Manhattan? A ‘Delirious’ Story

Koolhaas gives us charcoal drawings by Hugh Ferris dating from the s that predict the Manhattan that would result from chaotic profit-driven growth controlled by the grid and the zoning law. It is a Manhattan of towering skyscrapers with dramatic setbacks and nearly limitless central towers, the epitome of Manhattanism.

In a book stuffed to bursting with oddballs, kolhaas and visionaries, the heroes are “the people” of New York who have carried on “a subterranean collective dialogue” about the new forms that life in the city would assume. They — we — dekirious made the city what it is. The villains are officials and planners and Utopian architects who have largely been excluded in the population’s headlong rush toward the future, and who resent it.


Whenever I meet someone who hasn’t read Delirious New York, I recommend it and then, at home, realize that I was actually recommending it to myself, for rereading. I’ll take my copy from the shelf, begin flipping through it, become entranced by its riches and its eccentricities, loolhaas end up reading it, or at least wandering through it, again.

I never put it down without having been deligious by it — delirious, perhaps; fascinated, definitely. Your purchase helps support NPR programming. Accessibility links Skip to main content Keyboard shortcuts for audio player. The Birth Of Manhattan?

A ‘Delirious’ Story Author Eric Kraft describes Rem Koolhaas’ Delirious New York as a “sometimes outrageous retroactive manifesto” about architecture and city planning — in short, a book not to miss. Facebook Twitter Flipboard Email. March 19, Heard on All Things Considered.

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